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Whale check-ups are ‘snot’ what you expect

Aug 17, 2019

Whale check-ups are ‘snot’ what you expect

Just because they’re migrating 10,000km from Antarctica to the tropics doesn’t mean humpback whales can’t have their health checked. And it’s all thanks to a drone and their...snot.

Considering whaling caused humpback whale numbers along the east coast of Australia to drop to as few as 100 individuals, the health of the still recovering population is obviously important. But how do you give a 30 tonne mammal a vet check up? Well, OBVIOUSLY you catch their snot with a specially designed drone that flies through their breath.

Marine biologist Dr Vanessa Pirotta and pilot Alastair designed the special drone that has the unenviable task of flying through the thousands of litres of whale snot. And the system works. Samples have shown bacteria and viruses that whales are carrying up and down the coast of Australia that may impact upon their health in the future. Especially if whaling was ever to resume and stress their delicate immune systems...