Ocean Alliance, a conservation group has started a Kickstarter campaign, to create awareness about SnotBot, a flying robot to collect mucus. These custom-built drones will help the conservation group to collect the best details and data about whales.
The Kickstarter campaign was started on Saturday, and Sir Patrick Stewart has joined with his friend Lain Kerr of Ocean Alliance, to raise awareness. The remote-controlled drone was built-in partnership with Olin College of Engineering. These drones will fly over the whales and wait for them to exhale, allowing them to collect fresh whale mucus. The payload will be delivered to a homeboat, and researchers will analyze the biological data.
The mucus is secreted in the lines of lungs in whales, and can reveal several details about the mammal. The goobers are filled with virus, bacteria loads, environmental toxins, DNA and hormones. Analyzing these snots could provide information to biologists such as their stress levels, how close they are to mating, their wealth and if there is anything in the water that is dangerous to them.
The project offers a non-invasive way to collect samples, unlike blood or tissue sample. Usually, whales are chased by a motor boat, and is shot by a sampling dart. The stressful nature of the sample collection puts the whales under a great deal of stress. The bot is already built, and the funds from the campaign will be used in the research. By next month, Ocean Alliance hopes to raise over $225,000 to start the SnotBot program. As of now, the campaign has raised around $25K with the help of 370+ backers.
In Star Trek, Patrick Steward’s Picard is set to take revenge on a borg called Lily, played by Alfred Woodard, rebukes him: “Well, It looks like Captain Ahab has to go hunt his whale…snot.” Though this program is not related to the movie, somehow science fiction made its way into science.
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