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Scientists study whale's blow hole microbes with the help of a drone

Scientists study whale's blow hole microbes with the help of a drone

Science
Oct. 10 (UPI) -- Scientists have for the first time surveyed the unique community of microorganisms -- the microbiome -- living inside the blowhole of a humpback whale. They did so with the help of a six-rotor hexacopter.Researchers with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution used a custom-built drone to collect blow samples, the moist breath exhaled by whales, from 17 humpbacks off the coast of Cape Cod and from nine humpbacks swimming near Canada's Vancouver Island. The scientists sequenced the genetic material found in the blow samples to identify the microbes living in each whale's respiratory tract."We were using the drone to take aerial images of the whales, so that we could assess body conditions," NOAA researcher John Durban said in a news release. "Because of the stable flight p...