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Scientists on board "The Odyssey" will study health of the gulf

Three years after the BP oil spill scientists are continuing to study the deep waters.
A research boat is setting sail today from  Palafox Pier in Pensacola.
What the crew hopes to learn about what they hope to learn from whales.

This plastic tube contains several microphones, which crew members use to locate sperm whales animals they say in many ways signify the health of the gulf.
   
That clicking noise you hear is the sound the whales make.
Researchers say contacting them can be tough.

Roger Payne, President, Ocean Alliance: "It's a moving target where you're standing on a moving platform and you're trying to get close enough"
   
Roger Payne is one of nine researchers aboard "The Odyssey".
He and the international crew are testing the blubber of sperm whales.
   
They use a dart to take a small sample from just under the skin.
Bob Wallace, Researcher (in August of 2011): "It's like a mosquito bite to a human. It gets that much blubber sample, about the size of a pencil or half a finger."
   
This is the fourth year of a five year study.
The scientists are looking for chemicals collected in the animals' tissue.
   
They study sperm whales because they're at the top of the food chain and all of the toxins consumed by smaller animals eventually wind up inside of them.

Roger Payne, President, Ocean Alliance: "It's too early to talk about what the results are but we are seeing in some cases compounds such as toxic metals that are very high that may or may not be the result of the spill."
   
This voyage is expected to wrap up around the end of the month.