These Custom-Built Drones Help to Document the Human Impact on Whales

By: Katherine Pendrill - Aug 11, 2015
References: whale.org & kickstarter
Ocean Alliance has partnered with the Olin College of Engineering to produce a series of custom-built drones that help to monitor the health of whales in their natural habitat. According to the Ocean Alliance, tens of thousands of whales are harmed or killed each year due to human activity. These whales are crucial to our aquatic ecosystem and their continued decline could be disastrous for our oceans.

In order to better understand our impact on whales in their natural habit, the organization has designed a number of custom-built drones called 'Snotbots,' which will help to monitor the health of these vulnerable ocean creatures. These drones hover above surfacing whales and then collect the snot that is expelled by the animal. The Snotbots then return the samples to the lab, where researchers can examine them more closely.

While the idea of examining whale snot may sound unappealing, this lung lining sample can help researchers better understand the kinds of hormones and environmental toxins that whales are absorbing from our ocean.