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Whale snot drone pilots

Everyone dreams of being a scientist, but few understand just what that profession entails. Well, among other things, you could be a whale snot drone pilot.


Sylke Rohrlach from Sydney [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Scientists want to monitor the health of whales. To do this, they want to examine their mucus and their DNA. But how on Earth do you capture whale snot? And, more importantly (I’m looking at you, Japanese whale “researchers”), how do you capture whale snot without killing the whale?

Marine biologists have come up with a very clever approach. Whales surface to exhale, sending a spray of air, water, snot, and bacteria high in the air from their blowholes. Researchers used to use long poles to try and capture this “blow” (the technical name for the stuff that comes out of a blowhole). But this is obviously a difficult process.

Instead, some bright spark proposed that a drone could be piloted through the spray, capturing all the mucus and data at one fell swoop. Brilliant. You can see a video of this process in action below.

Categories: Plants & animals Sciences

The Generalist

I live in Auckland, New Zealand, and am curious about most things.

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