UNMANNED INSIGHT: Using Drones for Whale and Ocean Conservation: Ocean Alliance’s Snotbot, Annual members Meeting

Thursday, 14 July 2022 at 12:00 pm

Ocean Alliance, 32 Horton St., Gloucester, MA, 01930


Register here!

We live on planet ocean – 71% of this planet is covered by water, yet most drone companies only focus on terrestrial applications. Through their Drones for Whale Research Program, Ocean Alliance has demonstrated that there are enormous opportunities to use drones for marine wildlife conservation. Consider that the ten largest wildlife NGO’s spend more than $2.5 billion annually on wildlife conservation – and it is estimated that over $76 billion is spent annually to help conserve biodiversity. Dr. Iain Kerr and Drone Program Manager Chris Zadra will take you into the world of conservation drones and the challenges that Ocean Alliance faces as it brings new tools and technologies to the world of whale and ocean conservation.

SnotBot® is a modified consumer drone that flies through the blow of a whale and collects exhaled “snot” on petri dishes. This blow contains a treasure trove of valuable biological information: DNA, stress and pregnancy hormones, microbiomes, and potentially many other biological compounds and indicators of the animal’s health and ecology. Best of all, the whale doesn’t even know we are there. This is a non-invasive tool that is safer for the animals and cheaper and more effective for the user.

This talk will be followed by AUVSI New England’s Annual Chapter Membership Meeting. 


11:30 AM Arrive early!
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM "Lunch and Learn" talk by Iain Kerr, CEO, Ocean Alliance
1:00 PM - 1:30 PM Annual AUVSI New England Chapter Membership Meeting
1:30 PM - 2:00 PM Enjoy light sandwiches and refreshments by the water while networking with colleagues and organizers
2:00 PM  Tour of Ocean Alliance facility

Dr. Iain Kerr is the CEO of Ocean Alliance (OA), an organization recognized as an international leader in whale research and ocean conservation since its founding in 1971 by Dr. Roger Payne. Under Iain’s leadership, OA has maintained a reputation for developing innovative benign research tools and techniques that engage scientists and conservationists alike. Iain’s interdisciplinary skill sets have been critical to the success of OA’s newest program, Drones for Whale Research, which applies drone technologies to conduct minimally invasive research on whales. Iain’s work has been featured extensively in the media of note are the National Geographic production “Earth Live” and “One Strange Rock,” BBC, Blue Planet Live, Billy Connolly’s Great American Trail, and BBC 2’s The Equator from the Air.


Chris Zadra is the Drones for Whale Research Program manager for Ocean Alliance, Inc. After receiving a Master’s in Engineering from Lehigh University, he jumped on the opportunity to combine his interests in robotics with his love of whales and the ocean. His skills in rapid prototyping, software development, and entrepreneurship help Ocean Alliance develop new, noninvasive tools for marine mammal research and conservation.


Ocean Alliance, 32 Horton Street, Gloucester, MA 01930


Parking in Gloucester is limited. There is a metered lot on Rocky Neck Ave (2-hour limit). On-street metered parking is available on Rocky Neck Ave and Eastern Point Road, up to a 15-minute walk from Ocean Alliance.

See the map to the right for some ideas about parking in Gloucester. A clickable, larger version of the map is at the top of this page in the photo gallery.



If you can't make it in person, you can watch the 12:00-1:00 PM talk virtually via Zoom. Register for free for the virtual option. 



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