Voyage of the Odyssey

New CD Release – “Voyages of the Odyssey: Acoustic Adventures”

By | Ocean Alliance News | No Comments

This holiday season our whale adoption packages are being revamped with new treats for your whale lover. We’re excited to announce the release of a new sound recording called “Voyages of the Odyssey: Acoustic Adventures,” the first since “Songs of the Humpback Whale” and “Deep Voices,” which includes humpback whale songs recorded in the Seychelles during the Voyage of the Odyssey 2000-2005, plus melon-headed whales, pseudorcas (false killer whales), and sperm whales recorded in the Gulf of Mexico. This new cd will be included in all whale adoption packages. The new adoption packages will be ready for ordering next week, so stay tuned and #GoGreenBuyBlue!

An Open Letter to Japan from Dr. Roger Payne

By | nov14, Ocean Alliance News, Roger Payne | No Comments

A Sympathetic Voice: An Open Letter to Japan

When Christchurch, New Zealand was largely destroyed by a series of major earthquakes, the epicenters of those quakes lay along a fault line that runs very close to my house. Although we were exposed to the same violence that Christchurch was, and felt over 500 strong quakes, our house survived. That experience gave me the greatest empathy and concern for your country when on March 11, 2011, the Tohoku earthquake triggered the tsunami that overwhelmed the nuclear reactors at Fukushima. Read More

Monitoring the Acoustic World of Whales

By | nov14, Ocean Alliance News | No Comments

Acoustic bleaching—there’s an expression you don’t hear every day.  Whales operate in a world of sound; it is their primary sense. Blue whales make sounds that can be heard thousands of miles away, or at least they used to be able to.  Humanity is not just filling our oceans with trash, we are filling our oceans with sound.  From commercial shipping, seismic exploration and military testing, the oceans are no longer the silent world that Jacques Cousteau once talked about. Read More

NWF Releases Gulf of Mexico Report Featuring Our Work with Sperm Whales

By | apr14, Gulf of Mexico, Ocean Alliance News, Voyage of the Odyssey | No Comments

Odyssey with oil rigOcean Alliance has spent the last four summers in the Gulf of Mexico studying the effects of the Deepwater Horizon disaster on sperm whales with our partners—the Wise Laboratory at the University of Southern Maine and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Now as BP declares that “active cleanup” has been concluded, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) has released a report compiling study after study showing that the Gulf is far from healthy. Read More

Concentrations of Chromium and Nickel in Gulf of Mexico Sperm Whales Significantly Higher than Those Found in Whales Collected Around the World Prior to Spill

By | Gulf of Mexico, Ocean Alliance News | No Comments

Odyssey with sperm whale in the GulfIn 2010 the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico riveted the world with images of gushing oil in amounts hardly imaginable. Once the oil well was capped the press all but disappeared from the Gulf but the disaster remained. Iain Kerr, Roger Payne and our research partner Dr. John Wise from the University of Southern Maine, decided that this was where Ocean Alliance’s research vessel Odyssey needed to be to find out if and what damage the oil and dispersants were causing to the whales of the Gulf. That summer the Odyssey, staffed by a scientific team from USM including Dr. Wise, traveled from Gloucester to the site of the spill to collect what opportunistic data we could, including biopsy skin and blubber samples from sperm whales and we’ve returned every summer since.

Environmental Science and TechnologyThis week the Wise Laboratory announced the publication of a new paper in the scientific journal Environmental Science and Technology. The paper focuses not on the oil or dispersants, but on the genotoxic metals found in the Gulf oil – specifically chromium and nickel.  The Wise Laboratory has been our principle partner analyzing samples taken from sperm whales for over 10 years now.  They have conducted much of the toxicological analysis from  our global Voyage of the Odyssey that ran between 2000-2005.  Previous analysis by the Wise Laboratory has found that metals cause DNA damage and bioaccumulate in the tissues of whales. Using our sperm whale global data set the Wise team have been able to determine that samples taken in the Gulf were “significantly higher” in these metals than samples taken in other parts of the world.

Over the last 15 years Ocean Alliance has been collecting data on ocean pollution;  this gives us the capacity to take what we learn from locations such a as the Gulf of Mexico and put that data into a global context.  Many people dedicated time and money not only to the Gulf expeditions but also to the Voyage of the Odyssey and we are very grateful to everyone who has made this work and this publication possible.

Odyssey Gulf of Mexico Sunset





By | jan14, Ocean Alliance News, Voyage of the Odyssey | No Comments

Ocean Alliance believes that the greatest threat facing whales (& ultimately humanity) is ocean pollution.  Based on that premise, OA has been focusing its efforts for the last 15 years looking at the concentrations and effects of pollutants in the world’s oceans. Ocean Alliance’s five-year global study, the Voyage of the Odyssey, collected the first ever baseline data on ocean pollution using sperm whales as an indicator species. This study continues to bear fruit, with the publication of a new paper in the Marine Pollution Bulletin by our science partners at the Wise Laboratory. Read More

Putting the Data We Collect Into Context – By Iain Kerr

By | Ocean Alliance News, Sperm Whales, Voyage of the Odyssey | No Comments

Odyssey Gulf Sunset Window - Photo by Eliza MuirheadFrom 2000 to 2005 Ocean Alliance sent the research vessel Odyssey around the world.  We collected literally mountains of data, taking skin and blubber biopsies from sperm whales that we continue analyze.  Just last month our scientific partners at the Wise Laboratory at the University of Southern Maine published a paper based on this data: “A Global Assessment of Oceanic Lead Pollution using Sperm Whales (Physeter macrocephalus) as an Indicator Species.” Read More


By | Ocean Alliance News, Sea Shepherd | No Comments

The team at the U.N.

Delegates from the United Nations were educated about the state of the oceans yesterday, as activists including Ocean Alliance CEO Iain Kerr gathered for World Energy Day. In a session called “A Vision for A Sustainable World” organized by Parley for the Oceans, the speakers included Paul Watson and representatives from Sea Shepherd Society, Louis Psihoyos from the Ocean Preservation Society and “The Cove,” Daniella Russo and Dianna Cohen, founders of the Plastic Pollution Coalition, Lewis Perkins from Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, and Ghislaine Maxwell, founder of the Terramar Project. Read More


By | Commercial whaling, Odyssey, Sperm Whales, Voyage of the Odyssey, Whales | No Comments

In this log from the Voyage of the Odyssey Genevieve Johnson wrote about the attempt to pin the cause of dwindling fish stocks on whales.

Sperm whale - Photo by Chris Johnson

Sperm whale – Photo by Chris Johnson

Dr. Seiji Ohsumi, Director of the Cetacean Research Institute (ICR), Japan’s major institute for whale studies, co-authored a paper entitled Estimation of total food consumption by cetaceans in the world’s oceans. This often quoted “scientific” source received no peer review. (How do I know this? Because if it had, it would have been torn to pieces by other scientists.) Nonetheless, it’s used as the “scientific” rationale for a new diplomatic offensive Japan is mounting which attempts to make the world regard whales as greedy competitors to humans for fish from the sea. On November 17, 2000, Dr Ohsumi said that the need for Japan to carry out “scientific” whaling was because:

    “Until recently, the question of ‘what and how much whales are eating’ has not been taken up as a subject for discussion, but we find it now necessary to deal with the issue.”

This is spectacular nonsense (I think that’s the appropriate technical term). Read More