15 November 2008

A mini-helicopter for studying whales

Dr. Karina Acevedo-Whitehouse (Post-doctoral Research Fellow at the Zoological Society of London), found out a new way to study disease in whales.

Forget about samples taken from stranded, dead or captive animals and think about a 3.5 feet-long helicopter! This small remotely-controlled machine flies over the whale as it surfaces to breathe expelling air through its blow hole. At that time, gases and mucus blown out are collected in sterile Petri dishes attached to the mini-helicopter, and are then examined to see whether the animal is carrying any disease.

The new research method has been tested in the Gulf of California and off the western coasts of Baja California.

Silvia Bonizzoni

For more information:
Mini-helicopter used to test whale health

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