Collecting snot to save the whales
SnotBot (USA)
“The wildlife conservation challenges we face will not be solved through traditional tools and methodologies alone; we need more people thinking outside the box and taking risks to innovate.”
Dr. Iain Kerr,
 CEO of Ocean Alliance

The Drones for Whale Research programme, from the Ocean Alliance, is on a mission to democratise whale science through cheap and non-invasive technology. Standing on a boat Dr. Iain Kerr, CEO of Ocean Alliance, watched the whale dive under the surface just as they pulled up next to it. This could mean an hour wait before they could take much-needed samples. But then he noticed the smell coming from the whale’s blow – if it smells this bad, he thought, there must be some organic matter. This encounter, combined with Iain’s interdisciplinary skill set and interest in drones, was the beginning of Ocean Alliance’s Drones for Whale Research programme. From collecting the ‘snot’ of whales to understand their health and ecology in a non-invasive way, the programme has since adapted the technology to many other research uses and are making the comparatively cheap technology available to scientists across the world. Through this comparable data, scientists will better know how to protect these amazing animals for the future.