Dr. Iain Kerr is the chief executive officer of the ocean alliance, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to protect whales and their marine environment through research, scientific collaboration, public education and art. In the past 40 years, the Maritime Union has played an active role in the world. The mission of the alliance’s staff is scientific integrity to help protect and maintain the marine environment on which all of us, all of us and whales live.
In 2013, Iain realized that UAVs could be the future of whale research and conservation. In an attempt to collect samples from the whale, he was sprayed by the whale’s blowhole. This encounter led him to seek a way to use drones to collect samples of the whale’s consumption through its stomata. This allowed snotbot to be created and opened the door to new types of whale research that democratized data and enabled groups around the world to conduct research and collect data on marine mammals that they could not do.
The ocean alliance was founded 40 years ago by current president Roger Payne. The alliance has been working on marine life, especially whales. The alliance’s slogan is “healthy whales, healthy oceans, healthy humans”, which reflects people’s firm belief in the interconnectedness of species. This is important not only for the survival of whales, but also for the survival of humans.
Whale state (and ocean). Whales once had a unique threat – fishing. Today, although whaling is greatly reduced, the health of mammals is threatened by various ecological and biological conditions. Marine biologists collect DNA samples from whales to monitor their health. But it’s an expensive operation that takes large ships and many days at sea.
In 2013, Iain began to try UAVs, initially as a personal hobby. When he tried to use dart to get samples from whale, he was trapped by spray from whale spray hole. It gave him an idea: what if a drone can fly over the spray and collect samples of whale’s nasal mucus? The idea of snotbot was born. But it takes money to turn it into a viable tool. Thanks to movie and stage actor Sir Patrick Stewart, who donated money for the KickStarter campaign, the ocean alliance team produced snotbot, which fundamentally changed the world of marine science and data collection.
The democratization of science. Before using snotbot, getting DNA samples from whales required expensive boats, a qualified team, and many sea days. Only large organizations have the resources to conduct such research. But the price of UAVs is much cheaper. It costs about $1.500 to buy a really good UAV and equipment. The height of sensors and UAVs can reduce sea time. All this allows smaller organizations, even individuals, to conduct their own research. UAV is easy to use, site friendly, user-friendly, scalable and replicable. As ease of use and accessibility increases, the amount of data collected will increase, thereby expanding our understanding of these mammals and their marine environment.
Iain ends by encouraging researchers and enthusiasts to advance their ideas, no matter how it conflicts with principles. And seek ways to increase data collection for all.
Editor in charge: GT