Whale research project attracts international attention

Imagine that you are doing research on whales and need samples of their snot and breath. At the same time you do not want to disturb them. An animal friendly research method is now attracting international attention.

Klikk her for å endre bildet
Animal friendly. Courtney Waugh (to the left) and Helena Gomes use drones when collecting samples from the whales.​ Photo: Thomas Jergel/Camerat

Project Whale Exhale

“Studying wild whales and dolphins can be extremely challenging, and there is still a lot we don't know about their health, especially here in the North Atlantic", says Helena Costa.

One of the methods she uses is to collect breath samples with drones. The drone is lead through the stream of air that the whale exhales when it comes to the surface to breathe. By using this method the scientists avoid disturbing the animals, and are able to collect important samples for further analysis.

SeaWorld in Australia

Klikk her for å endre bildet
Modern technology. By using drones in their field work, the scientists avoid disturbing the whales. Photo: Thomas Jergel/Camerat.

“The SeaWorld in Australia is very different from the SeaWorld parks in the USA. SeaWorld in Australia invests a lot of time and resources on research and animal welfare, which is, to a large extent, what the documentary is about.  It is a great honour for us that they want to include our researc​​h project in the documentary", Courtney Waugh says.

According to Helena Costa, the samples will give them access to important material for further analysis, such as hormones, pathogens and DNA, as well as different biomarkers that can be used to find out more about each individual.​

“This will help us understand how these species will respond to the ever-increasing pressure on the marine and arctic eco-systems", Costa says. 

Mapping out the whale health of the future

Klikk her for å endre bildet
International attention. Courtney Waugh and Helena Gomes ​highly appreciate the interest from media and other scientists. Photo: Thomas Jergel/Camerat

“The fact that we are developing a new biomarker for health that can be used for both wild animals and animals held in captivity, makes our project especially interesting for SeaWorld. Our tool will be of great help also for mapping out the future health of dolphins in the SeaWorld parks. In this way, whales and dolphins living in captivity in parks like SeaWorld can play an important role for their relatives in the wild", Helena Costa says.

Costa and Waugh appreciate the interest they get from other scientists, media and people in general.​​​

“Being as passionate as we are about this project, we appreciate this exciting opportunity to tell others about it", they say.


 Contact persons