Day 16:

Bob gets in lots of flying with his drone. He’s taking samples of whale “snot” when the whales blow. Positioning the drone above the blow hole when the whale breathes out, a petrie dish on the top of the drone collects material from the blow. This will be analysed at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in order to find out things like whether New Zealand right whales have lower levels of stress hormones than right whales in the Northern Hemisphere. Steve does a record 16 flights with his drone. The drone work is what it’s at today. We get quite a few photo-ID pictures as well, but yesterday was better for photo-ID for some reason. Yesterday I was out in Nemo with David Johnstone. It was much rougher weather than today, but almost all of the whales we encountered were really easy to approach and we got very good ID pictures from almost all of the 22 whale encounters we made. Today, was not as good from either Nemo or Cetos. Much calmer weather, but for some reason the whales were not as easy to work with as they were yesterday. You get that. Excellent day for droning though! The afternoon’s droning session is entertaining. We spend most of the time trying to get blow samples from mothers with calves. These are much larger than most of the single adults and the groups of sub-adults. They therefore produce a larger blow, which gives us a better chance of collecting good snot. However, the females with calves are often much more careful to keep their distance and one of the mothers gives a strong tail swipe in the direction of the drone.
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Bob’s drone flies again! (Day 15 of right whale blog)

It’s a great sight to see the Woods Hole drone in the air when we get back from the afternoon’s photo-ID session. Bob has been working hard on getting the drone functional again. It started with several days in a huge container of rice (see below). Rice is famous for absorbing moisture. Lots of people put a few grains of rice into their salt shaker at home. Luckily, our food stores include plenty of rice. So Bob’s drone spent several days surrounded by rice. The camera spent some time in the engine room. When we hang our wet rain gear in the engine room they dry in an hour or two. The camera dried up nicely, but did not survive the dunking. The video camera on the drone still works, so Bob can position the drone for sampling whale blows. But the Otago University drone is now the only one still doing aerial photography to measure whales. Bob got some lovely photos before his drone went into the water. But now it's a whale snot sampling device only. More about that soon.
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Yes, that is a concern isn't it. Good on you for posting this! ... See MoreSee Less

I have to say I was a tad concerned about the whale when I saw this Juggernaut charging down the harbour.

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