‘Whale snot’ helicopter scoops Ig Nobel Prize
Friday 1 October 2010
A novel research technique that uses a remote-controlled helicopter to carry out whale health checks has been awarded one of the 2010 Ig Nobel Prizes.
Dr Karina Acevedo-Whitehouse from ZSL and Dr Diane Gendron from CICIMAR at the Mexican National Polytechnic Institution came up with the idea of using a remote-controlled helicopter as a non-invasive method for collecting samples of whale blow to monitor the health of individual whales.
The technique involves flying a remote-controlled helicopter above a whale as it surfaces and catching the whale blow in petri dishes attached to the underside of the helicopter. The researchers then analyse the samples for any pathogens.
This unique sampling method allows the researchers to assess the impact of respiratory diseases on whale populations.
The Ig Nobel Prizes honour achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think. The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honour the imaginative — and spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology.