“Odyssey” Heads to Gulf for “Independent” Whale Research; Saturday, 7/17; “Meet and Greet” at SMCC – Friday, 7/16th


Dr. Wise, (far right) with his son, John Jr., and daughter, Catherine, at PYS today

By Carol McCracken (Post # 524)

On Saturday, another research vessel will be leaving the docks of Portland Yacht Services – this one is headed to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The 96 ft. ketch, Odyssey, was previously docked at DiMillo’s Marina, but moved to PYS on Sunday to have work done on her rigging before heading south.

The Odyssey, whose home port is Gloucester, MA., is a floating research lab that enables scientists to preserve and increase cells at sea from whales. That makes the ship perfect for the research that Dr. John Wise, a USM professor and head of the Wise Lab there and his team of young scientists, intend to perform while aboard the ship for the next three months in the Gulf.

Yesterday afternoon Dr. Wise said: “We study how environmental pollutants affect human and marine animals, particularly focusing on effects on DNA.” On his upcoming trip, Dr. Wise will be studying the affect of oil on whales who have been subjected to the BP oil spill. Accompanying Dr. Wise will be his two sons, daughter and his wife Sandy, for part of the expedition.

In fact, Ms. Wise is the director of Cytogenetics and Genomic Instabiality in the Wise Labor on the USM campus. The Lab is a leader in toxocology because it has the largest collection of whale cell lives in the US. At USM, Dr. Wise teaches how chemicals cause cancer and damage to DNA and how to do research.

As far as Dr. Wise and his staff know, this expedition to the Gulf is the only independent research trip of its kinds to the Gulf. The expedition is not funded by the government or by BP, the company that caused the spill in April. It’s funded privately.

Meanwhile, you may learn much more about this expedition by meeting the crew at a “Meet and Greet” event at Southern Maine Community College, South Portland, on Friday.

The expedition is expected to leave from Portland Yacht Services on Saturday at 7 pm.

Please visit www.oceanalliance.org for more.