Watch: Research Drones Monitor Whale Snot

DJI Phantom 4 drone
A DJI Phantom 4 drone hovers over a whale in the Sea of Cortez. DJI

Updated | A novel method of conducting research into whales has been devised by scientists, who are using small drones to fly above the ocean giants and collect mucus shot out from their blowholes.

The so-called Snotbot drone was developed by researchers for Ocean Alliance in an effort to learn more about the bodily fluids of blue whales in the Sea of Cortez. By analyzing the samples, the scientists hope to better understand the impact that human activities have on whales.

"The idea behind Snotbot is to collect physical, biological data and video and photographs from a whale without the whale knowing," said Iain Kerr, CEO of Ocean Alliance and founder of Snotbot.

"We needed a drone to collect that data. The exhaled breath condensate, the snot that the whale is blowing out, is likely to be full of all of these wonderful chemical markers that gives us insight into the lives of whales."

The research follows a crowdfunding campaign from 2015 that raised $230,000 and sought to improve current methods of collecting samples from whales. The standard collection method used to involve chasing the animal and shooting it with a dart to capture it.

Update: Newsweek apologizes for having inappropriately used the video of DJI and now has received permission from DJI to display the video on this page, with fullcredit to DJI.