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Odyssey's Captain Bob Wallace, First Mate/Marine Coordinator Josh Jones, and Scientific Coordinator Rebecca Clark, discuss possible routes for a coming research leg based upon a wide range of data, from historical whaling records to updated satellite images showing sea surface conditions.
Photo: DavidDay

October 18, 2000
The Search for Sperm Whales Continues
Real Audio

Log Transcript

Hi this is Genevieve Johnson talking to you from the Odyssey, as we traverse the Central Pacific on our mission to better understand this ocean and some of its inhabitants. The Pacific Ocean, is a scarcely explored watery wilderness, larger than all of the worlds land masses combined. The sheer enormity of this mass of blue is all but impossible to grasp, 71% of our planet is covered by ocean with the pacific making up 50% of that.

It is for precisely this reason that the Odyssey crew must employ specific techniques, in order to maximize our probability of locating Sperm whales, an animal which spends only about 8 to 15% of its time at the surface. Since the beginning of our voyage, we have been combining historical data; specifically old whaling charts from (1761 - 1920 ) that indicate global sperm whale catches, along with more recent marine mammal surveys. One constant for the Odyssey scientific team in locating sperm whales has been the depth and topography of the ocean floor. When we have found whales, it has often been in areas of steep gradation, where the bottom rises quickly from depths of over 3000 meters. These underwater mountain ranges and deep trenches are usually areas of increased productivity due to associated upwelling. It was precisely along the upper ridge of one of these underwater peaks that Rebecca, on her observation watch, spotted a mother and calf pair of Beaked whales today. Another species known to favor such bathymetric features.

Because the depth contours along which these whales travel only help to approximate where we might find them, the Odyssey follows transects or pre-planned courses, working back and forth across these underwater features, incorporating both a visual and acoustic search effort. We are currently searching an area where there is little or no whale data available. Based on the success of our research to date, as we continue to move across the world's oceans, we will collect whatever nautical, historical and anecdotal information we can, to aid in our ongoing search for sperm whales.

Log by Genevieve Johnson

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