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Voyage of the Odyssey - Sri Lanka: March 2003 - September 2003

Relive the experiences of the scientists and crew on this research leg the Maldives.
Click on each image to see a larger photo and the written transcript of the log.

You will need the Real Player, to watch video or listen to the logs.


October 3, 2003
'Departed Sri Lanka - Crossing the Indian Ocean'
"We bid farewell to Sri Lanka with much regret, leaving an abundance of whales and many new found friends in our wake - we all vowed to return in the near future."
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September 18, 2003
'Longman's Beaked Whale Sighted by the Odyssey Crew'
"While researching in the Maldives in February, 2003, the Odyssey crew sighted and photographed a group of beaked whales. Today, we can confirm that they were Longman's beaked whales. Among beaked whales, the Longman's beaked whale (Indopacetus pacificus) is one of the least known species, and is known from little more than skeletal remains and a few sightings at sea."
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September 12, 2003
'Kandy Esala Perahera'
"While waiting for the south-west monsoon season to subside, the Odyssey has undergone an extensive maintenance period in recent weeks. The time in port gave the crew an opportunity to experience some of the extraordinary cultural heritage throughout Sri Lanka. For us on the Odyssey, witnessing the Esala Perahera was an experience we will always remember."
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August 22, 2003
'Chemical Pollution Series (Part 4) - Pesticides could become the ultimate male contraceptive - why?'
"Something is happening to the reproductive system of the males of many species. It's happening to male birds of prey around the Great Lakes and male alligators in Florida. To male harbor seals in the Netherlands and male polar bears in the Arctic. And to boys and men throughout the industrialized world."
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August 11, 2003
'Chemical Pollution Series (Part 3) - Our most precious natural resource is being threatened - why?'
"We've never created a product with the effectiveness of breast milk. Breast milk is a unique source of nourishment and protection against disease. But the chemical industry has created a myriad of toxic synthetic chemicals that ultimately collect in breast milk and are passed to infants. Some of these chemicals can pose risks to the health and neurological development of our children."
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August 1, 2003
'Chemical Pollution Series (Part 2) - More kids are getting brain cancer - why?'
"A continuation in the series of articles orginally published in the New York Times alerting people of the types of threats we all face from environmental pollution."
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July 18, 2003
'Chemical Pollution Series (Part 1) - Toxic chemicals can cause learning disabilities'
"In 2002, a series of seven, one-page articles appeared in the New York Times. The primary goal behind them was to alert people to the types of threats we all face from environmental pollution - specifically from a group of compounds called Persistent Organic Pollutants or POP's. Since the collection of data on the distribution and concentrations of POP's (also known as EDC's, BPT's and organohalogens) in the world's oceans is a focus of our work - it seems fitting to present another take on this issue."
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July 8, 2003
'Perspectives - Researching Whales in Sri Lanka'
"The secrets of the riches of our seas were initially unravelled during the Tulip expedition of the early 80's. The Odyssey is only the second research team to do a comprehensive study on the marine mammals of our waters and I am proud to be a part of the team."
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June 30, 2003
'A Renewed Hope for Whales - The 2003 International Whaling Commission Meeting'
"The annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) has concluded for another year. The crew was ecstatic to learn that those working for the protection of the great whales 'for all time', achieved a narrow victory over the loathsome representatives of whaling nations that eagerly anticipate a return to the commercial slaughter."
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June 27, 2003
'The Dolphin Fishery'
"Until recently, the desperate plight of the world's dolphins and porpoises has gone relatively unnoticed, even though an estimated 300,000 small cetaceans are killed annually. Their mortality is rising at an alarming rate with fisherman specifically targeting dolphins."
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June 20, 2003
'Save the Dolphins'
"Few people are aware of the hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions of small whales, known as dolphins and porpoises, that are killed every year in frightening numbers as a direct result of entanglement in fishing gear. In fact considerably more dolphins are killed today than all the great whales that were killed at the height of the mechanized commercial hunts that brought many species to the brink of extinction."
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June 13, 2003
'Pygmy Killer Whales and Sperm Whales'
"One of the most exciting and rewarding aspects of a long-term, oceanic expedition is that the crew is never quite sure of what events each day will bring. We have learned to always expect the unexpected."
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June 5, 2003
'A Rare Whale Encounter'
"The Bryde’s whale is one of the smaller baleen species, averaging around 50 feet in length. Although it has been established that there are at least two distinct forms, an offshore, partly migratory species and an inshore resident species."
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June 2, 2003
'How do dolphins avoid high speed collisions with each other?'
"The other day, we had a group of about 200 Pantropical spotted dolphins (Stenella attenuata) approach and bow ride. None of us ever tires of watching groups of dolphins cavorting and rolling as they travel with the Odyssey. Bowriding dolphins also always afford a great opportunity to make acoustic recordings of their clicks and whistles."
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May 27, 2003
'Young Scientist Program'
"The Young Scientist program is an educational initiative developed by the Ocean Alliance that allows students to participate in real scientific research and exploration from the classroom while communicating with researchers in the field onboard the Odyssey. We spoke with students at the Brooks School in Lincoln, Massachusetts."
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May 20, 2003
'Vesak - A Buddhist Festival'
"Despite the weather conditions, the crew returned to port to find the festivities of 'Vesak' well underway. Vesak is a two-day, island-wide holiday falling on the full moon in May commemorating the birth, enlightenment and death of Lord Buddha. It is one of the most colourful and elaborate holidays in a country that is famous for its festivals."
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May 16, 2003
'Mating Risso's Dolphins'
"The animals appeared to be milling in a tight group, between abrupt bursts of speed just beneath the surface. We assumed they were probably chasing a school of fish and decided to take a closer look."
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May 12, 2003
'Blue Whales in the Basses'
"To see a Blue whale at sea is something most of us can only dream about. To see more than one in a lifetime is a rarity reserved for a fortunate few. To be in a boat surrounded by 5 or 6 blue whales is an experience so profoundly moving."
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May 9, 2003
'In Awe of Whales'
"Yesterday morning at 12.30 am, we detected the familiar clicking of another group of sperm whales. The echolocation clicks of these animals are fast becoming the theme of our research in Sri Lanka - an area that contains one of the largest concentrations of sperm whales we have seen since the 'Voyage of the Odyssey' began over three years ago."
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May 6, 2003
'How Ships' Traffic Noise affects Whales In a Shipping Channel '
"The Odyssey crew is currently working 50 miles southwest of Dondra Head near the southern tip of the island. Over the past three days we have sighted between forty and fifty sperm whales, even though we are sailing in one of the busiest shipping lanes in the entire Indian Ocean. The majority of ships travelling around the southwest coast of Sri Lanka are moving between the Suez Canal and Eastern India and from there on to elsewhere in Asia or to Australia."
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April 29, 2003
'The Sea Turtle Tragedy'
"At 2 o'clock this afternoon, Peter radioed the helm from the observation platform when he spotted something floating in the water about 300 meters ahead. As Mark followed Peter's directions to steer Odyssey toward the floating object, Peter called down again: 'I think it's a turtle tangled in fishing gear'."
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April 25, 2003
'Sperm Whales and Elephants'
"It is difficult to imagine two mammals with more different habitats, however, there are striking parallels between the lives of these aquatic carnivores and terrestrial herbivores."
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April 18, 2003
'Whales in the Gulf of Mannar'
"The Odyssey crew departed Colombo and headed north late yesterday afternoon with great anticipation and high hopes of finding whales. Early this morning we passed over the edge of the continental shelf into the deep waters of the Gulf of Mannar. Almost immediately, Mark, our first mate, heard the clicks of sperm whales through our acoustic array."
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April 14, 2003
'Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage'
"The elephant is the largest living animal found on land, its size is only exceeded by some large whale species. Before heading back out to sea in search of sperm whales, the crew travelled up into the mountains in the hope of seeing Sri Lankan elephants."
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April 7, 2003
'Arrival in Sri Lanka'
"Our expectations were quickly surpassed last week when we observed five species of cetaceans in a single day only twelve miles from shore, including a sighting of a Bryde's whale mother/calf pair only 100 meters off the bow of Odyssey. Over the course of the afternoon, Risso's, Fraser's and bottlenose dolphins crossed our path and before sunset we even encountered the most extreme of all cetaceans, the blue whale."
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March 31, 2003
'Lionfish'
"Many species of fish are perfectly camoflaged, having evolved to blend into their background to hide from predators, or to increase their chances of sneaking up on prey, or both. If you swim closer to the reef, hang in one place and control your buoyancy in order to avoid touching the coral, you will almost always notice more fish than you would while swimming by it."
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