WCI R/V Odyssey Update Fall '94

Whale Conservation Institute (wci@vmsvax.simmons.edu)
Mon, 20 Nov 1994 12:58:59

Odyssey Log Book - November 1994
by Leslie Walkup/Kim Marshall
The R/V Odyssey is currently being hosted by the Scripps
Oceanographic Institute in San Diego during its month long stay in
California.  On behalf of WCI and the Odyssey team, we would like to
extend our deepest gratitude to the generous people at Scripps.
Captain Iain Kerr is currently in San Diego leading a refit and
systems upgrade of the Odyssey  for next yearUs research programs
in Mexico, Costa Rica and Alaska.
One of WCIUs most important programs, the Ecotox Program, will
continue in December.  Ecotox is a five year global toxin assessment
project to collect crucial information about baseline pollutants
affecting our oceans.  During 1995, the National Geographic Society,
Discovery Channel, BBC and film companies from France and Japan
will support WCIUs education, conservation and research initiatives.
The Odyssey will also provide a platform for the filming of Whale,
an IMAX/Omnimax film to be shown on large format screens
While in San Diego, Dr. Payne, Captain Kerr, WCI staff and Nan
Hauser from the Dolphin Research Center have been lecturing about
our work and whales and dolphins.  We hope to raise awareness and
concern for the threats facing whales and man and to increase
support for our research expeditions.  We are very  grateful for the
warm welcome we have received from many people in San Diego.
Leaving Panama in June, the Odyssey traveled up the west coast
of Central America to La Paz, Baja, California sur, Mexico where the
program has received an enormous amount of support. (Many thanks
to the Marina La Paz for the free dockage!)  As always with an
emphasis on the ecology and conservation of marine mammals, we
plan to investigate the Sea of Cortez.  As with previous expeditions,
WCI will collaborate research efforts with local scientists.  A very
exciting partnership has been formed with Dr. Jorge Urban,
Coordinator of the Marine Mammal Research Program at the
University of Mexico in La Paz.  We are confident that this new
friendship will be a key element in our research and conservation
The Sea of Cortez is teeming with marine life. Leslie Walkup, the
Odyssey programUs newest member, had an incredible experience on
the boat.  In one day, a group of 15 to 20 pilot whales, a group of
sperm whales and 4 to 6 orcas were seen from the observation post
aboard the Odyssey.  Captain Iain Kerr noted that pilot whales have
been regularly spotted in the immediate area which may be  a
popular feeding area.  Whale watching is becoming a popular tourist
attraction in this area
The Odyssey will return to La Paz  December 8 to continue
working with Dr. Urban, who studies finback whales, and researcher,
Jeff Jacobsen.  In early 1995, we will sail to Socorro, Mexico with
Jeff aboard to collect data on humpback whales that migrate there
every winter from Alaska.  Then the Odyssey will set sail for Costa
Rica to continue our studies on the enigmatic sperm whale adding
data to our studies that began in the Galapagos Islands in 1988.
Earlier this month, Odyssey researchers Bernard Brennan, Daniel
Palacios and Patricia Rodriguez from Colombia presented papers at a
marine mammal conference in Brazil.  Bernard and Patti have been
analyzing orca attacks on sperm whales and BrydeUs whales.  Daniel
has intensely studied dolphins and has compiled a list of marine
mammal species resident to the Galapagos Islands.  Now the these
three researchers are helping with a study on river dolphins.  Next
month, they will return to the lab in Lincoln to analyze more of the
Galapagos data.
This year we were also lucky enough to have Mr. Gil Grosvenor,
president and Chairman of National Geographic Society, visit the
Odyssey.   In the logbook, Mr. Grosvenor inscribed the following:
ROdyssey and itsU crew combine all the ingredients for excellent
research; dedication, very hard work, patience, observation skills,
high tech and low tech, photography, sonar, GPS, et al. You are
clearly setting new standards for whale identification and
It is the support of our members which make these
accomplishments possible.  We thank you most of all and look
forward to your continued support.
The Odyssey team would also like to extend  special thanks
-Karen Baker (WCI) and Karen Ivy of Baja Discovery Tours
-Kohler Generators
-Firemaster-Fire Protection Specialists
-Pro-Line Paint Co.
-Bob Perenetti, WCI Representative, Florida
-Dr. Jorge Urban, University of Mexico
-Jeff Jacobsen, La Paz, Mexico
-Scott Macrae of San Diego for housing Odyssey crew
-Beth Dore
-Knight and Carver Boat Yard
The list goes on and on, we are truly thankful for all the help and
support we have received from you since the start of the Odyssey
programs in 1991.  We couldnUt do it without you!
Message from the Captain:
In this most recent refit in San Diego, we have modified the
Odyssey once again (from lessons learned in the Galapagos) to better
suit her research role.  We are still seeking 2 million dollars in
funding for the five year Global Ecotox Program.  The Ecotox program
will be able to reach its full significance in 1995 after raising the
necessary financial support.  Data is currently being collected, but
until funding is secured, full-scale analysis will be delayed.  Please
do not belittle the value of any effort you make on the behalf of the
environment. If more people would just do a little, our task and the
tasks of environmentalists, scientists, and conservationists
worldwide would be measurably easier.
Captain Iain Kerr, Director Ocean Research