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Drones that collect whale snot could help marine biologists do research — and Sir Patrick Stewart wants you to fund the technology.
The drone is called Snotbot. It works by flying above a whale breaching the surface of the water and collecting the mucus that is expelled from the animal's blowhole.
That might sound gross, but for the whales, it's less disruptive than having researchers chase them with a speedboat and then shoot them with a crossbow to collect a tissue sample.
"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," wrote Ocean Alliance, the non-profit behind Snotbot. "The chart would say something like, 'elevated stress levels, prone to shrieking.' It's inaccurate."
This drone would allow researchers to collect samples from a half-mile away without stressing out the whales.
To fund the project, the Ocean Alliance, along with the Olin College of Engineering, decided to start a Kickstarter campaign. They even got help from a celebrity friend: Sir Patrick Stewart from "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and the X-Men movies. Stewart appeared in a promotional video for the fundraising effort.
Overall, the Ocean Alliance wants to raise $225,000 to build the waterproof drones, and it's offering rewards like hats, documentaries and whale-watching trips to contributors.