Eco-Odyssey founders Ollie Olphert and Janot Prat first met in 1999, when Ollie went to Camaret, France, on behalf of Sir Peter Blake, to check out the vessel Antarctica for his future expedition projects. Janot had been working on the Antarctica for French explorer Dr Jean-Louis Etienne.
At the time, although still busy with the America’s cup defence, Sir Peter was heading expeditions for the Cousteau Society and Ollie had joined him on expeditions the previous year.
Sir Peter purchased Antarctica and, following delivery and refit in Auckland, New Zealand, plus establishing Blakexpeditions as an independent entity in 2000 she was renamed Seamaster. Ollie joined Seamaster in the position of 2nd Captain, 1st mate and lead diver, while Janot served onboard as mate/engineer.
Following a shakedown cruise in New Zealand after refit, Seamaster and crew departed for Cape Horn in November 2001.
Expeditions were completed in Patagonia and Antarctica prior to sailing to Argentina and later Brazil for the Amazon expedition where, in the closing days, Sir Peter Blake was shot and killed by river pirates. Three documentary films were completed during these missions.
Following the ill-fated Amazon expedition, Ollie and Janot remained with Seamaster for another two years, undertaking a return trip to the Amazon on a documentary mission with the BBC, before delivering her to Newport, Rhode Island where they performed maintenance and upkeep on the vessel.
In 2003 the Seamaster was put up for sale. Ollie and Janot attempted to purchase the vessel to continue the voyage however could not raise sufficient funds in the short timeframe available.
Ollie and Janot now continue their environmental awareness quest with the development and establishment of the Eco-Odyssey Foundation, to include design and build of their new Evolutionary Polar Expedition Vessel.
Under the Eco-Odyssey umbrella, Janot returned to the Amazon in 2006 to scout research and plan a future return journey of the routes taken in 2001. In 2007 he joined an American team in Magdalena Bay, Mexico, to investigate and assist in a Grey Whale sanctuary project. Projects have also been undertaken in Vietnam and more recently in Tonga filming the Humpback whales annual migrations.
For more information refer to team bios
Grey Whales are worldwide travellers, embarking on the longest migrations of any known mammal.
They move between masses of ocean terrain for their annual summer feeding and winter breeding periods, stretching their journey from the Arctic to Mexico and back!
Part of the Baleen Whale family, Grey Whales filter the sea floor with the help of 'plates', looking for small Crustaceans and worms.
Of the two known populations, Grey Whales in the North-Western Pacific are CRITICALLY ENDANGERED, compared to their healthier counterparts in the Eastern North Pacific.