Former Star Trek: Next Generation and X-Men star Sir Patrick Stewart is helping to promote a new Kickstarter campaign. Specifically, he is endorsing a team of scientists with Ocean Alliance who invented a better method of acquiring important samples from whales.
In a promotional video Captain Iain Kerr, an Ocean Alliance researcher and long-time friend of Stewart states: “Were really looking for ways to collect biological data (from whales) without harassing the animals, and here comes our drones, which we affectionately call ‘Snot Bots.”
Kerr continues: “Blow samples or snot are a treasure trove of data. With them, we can sequence DNA, measure stress and pregnancy hormone levels, determine virus and bacteria loads, and run a host of other non-invasive experiments.”
According to Kerr and Stewart, today’s research techniques leave a lot to be desired and can even result in “inaccurate data.” The scientific team elaborates: “Imagine if everything your doctor knew about your health came from chasing you around the room with a large needle while blowing an air-horn. The chart would say something like, ‘elevated stress levels, prone to shrieking.’ It’s inaccurate.”
Kerr believes the Snot Bot will be so subtle the whales will notice nothing. The Snot Bot is a drone that was designed in conjunction with the Olin College of Engineering. It will hover silently over a whale that is surfacing and remain there until it can collect whale snot expelled from the whale’s blow hole using a type of absorbent tissue.
The drone is also designed to be able to contact a research team from significant distances. Kerr believes the Snot Bot drone will allow the whales to go about their everyday activities undisturbed by such proven stressful sounds as boat engines.
Patrick Stewart, who has reportedly been supporting Ocean Alliance for quite some time, volunteered to be subjected to a few of the more frequent whale stressors in order to help demonstrate how truly disruptive they can be.
Stewart concludes: “I’m asking you to support my good friend Captain Ian Kerr and Ocean Alliance in their quest for better, more effective, more efficient, innovative research that will give us answers to some of the mysteries about the ocean and particularly, whales.”
Patrick Stewart Endorses Whale Snot Kickstarter