Drone captures whale rolling, playing in ocean

- A humpback whale put on a show for a drone that was sent out to collect samples for research in Frederick Sound, Alaska back in 2016. 

The research institute recently released the video as part of its effort to spread awareness of its missions of conservation and education.

The Ocean Alliance says its "SnotBot" drones are used for collecting DNA and hormone samples from the water spouted into the air by humpback whales. But on this expedition, the camera-equipped drone captured a humpback whale twirling and splashing in the open ocean. 

According to Ocean Alliance, using drones to collect samples from humpback whales is less expensive and time-consuming than past methods, which include necropsy of dead whales or approaching live whales by boat. The SnotBot can collect samples in the air from the whale's blow,  or exhaled breath condensate (EBC), creating far fewer dangers for the animals and researchers. 

Ocean Alliance says it has conducted SnotBot expeditions in the Sea of Cortez, Patagonia, and Alaska, where this video was captured. The missions in Alaska, OA said, were to increase the number of samples taken in for a single piece of research and to test two new drones:  EarBot and FLIRBot.

Ocean Alliance says its EarBot is a waterproof drone that can land in the water near whales and record their sounds. FLIRBot is a drone with an InfraRed camera for studying whales in low light or at night. 

Ocean Alliance was founded by Dr. Roger Payne, who discovered that whales can sing, and then recorded their songs. To learn more, visit  http://www.whale.org/research/drones/.

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