Scientists used a toy helicopter to collect whale snot from their blows.
Winner of the 2010 Ig Nobel Prize for Engineering.
A remote-controlled toy helicopter hovering over the blowhole of a whale was used to collect snot samples that could help scientists learn which bacteria lurk in seemingly healthy cetaceans in the wild.
Acevedo-Whitehouse is collecting the bacteria from healthy whales in order to make comparisons with the blow from sick whales.
Acevedo-Whitehouse and her colleagues work from a small boat, scanning the ocean for the whales' blows, which appear as a sprinkler mist shooting from the ocean surface.
The mist contains the whale's exhalation of air, water vapor and mucus.
An operator directs the helicopter directly above and through the mist, which sprays up onto Petri dishes.
The researchers analyze DNA from the samples to identify particular micro-organisms.