Tag Archives: Ocean Alliance

Ocean Alliance

FOB Iain Kerr from Ocean Alliance let me know more exciting news.

Hi Donna,

We have just been told that they are airing the story on the NBC nightly news tomorrow night.  Monday 19th.

I have attached a spectacular Alaska whale photo.

 christianmiler_alaska_snotbot-45Watch NBC News on Monday night (19th) to see a story on Ocean Alliance. Correspondent Tom Costello came to Gloucester last week to shoot a segment on SnotBot. Mr. Costello and his team were a real pleasure to work with, we thank them for their interest in our work.



Exciting news from Ocean Alliance

Congrats to our Ocean Alliance.
nbc-3-tn nbc-4-tn

On Monday Sept 12th, Tom Costello from NBC Nightly News visited Ocean Alliance to shoot a story on SnotBot.

Mr. Costello was accompanied by his producer Jay Blackman, a videographer, and soundman. The weather was absolutely beautiful and the NBC team were on site from 9:00 am until 2:00 pm.

Our CEO and chief SnotBot pilot Iain Kerr was interviewed and filmed flying SnotBot. Understanding the unique perspective of a drone, he offered to shoot some video of Mr. Costello for the news story with SnotBot. NBC are now heading to interview Dr. Scott Baker at Oregon State University, who is analyzing SnotBot samples from our most recent expedition to Alaska.




Blue body 2 [2]Our friends at Ocean Alliance have just returned from the Sea of Cortez.  They took their drone SnotBot down there and successfully collected Snot from Blue, Grey and Humpback whales.  Here is an except form Iain Kerr’s most recent blog along with some photos of the largest animal that has even live on this planet… a blue whale.
After 10 minutes of high speed running the boat slowed down and we immediately launched a SnotBot. Within seconds we saw a blow, still a long way off.  Luckily the DJI Inspire 1’s top speed is close to 50 mph so I raced towards the whale and was soon close enough to see it though my FPV camera system…. and OMG – it was a blue whale!  I cannot describe my feelings as I approached this remarkable animal gliding through the water. After almost 30 years in this business and a British understated reputation to maintain, I have to admit that my hands started shaking and yes I made a mess of my first approach and did not get a blow sample.  I did not care though, the experience of flying SnotBot over the largest animal that has ever lived on the planet was an experience of a lifetime. To put this animal’s size into context: an adult blue whale’s tongue can weigh 6.5 tons; the heart is so big that a human adult could climb into one chamber.  Our blue whale was stunning in the crystal clear water, seeming to swim effortlessly.  After it dove I just left the drone hovering above its footprint and looked around at the rest of the team who were all ecstatic – last day on the water, beautiful weather and we were with a blue whale. I have only ever seen a blue whale once and when you look at the attached photo you realize that a drone’s eye view is incomparable; it’s the ultimate viewing experience. Look at its features, how the eyes protrude so that the animal can see forward; look at all of the different musculature and markings on the animal; just look at its amazing color.  So often with SnotBot we focus on the physical data we are collecting from the blow: DNA, micro biomes  pregnancy and stress hormones, but here we can see that even the photos and video that we take have enormous scientific, educational and emotional value.
You can read more about their work on their website:  http://www.whale.org/snotbot-sea-of-cortez-part-3-blue-whale/
IMG_6268 Iain Kerr and John Graham representing in the Sea of Cortez (Iain reports that Gloucester resident John is their resident McGyver, who can fix anything that goes wrong on a voyage)

Blue body & boat[2]Blue body short[2]Blue Snotted[2]

Only 3 days left to join Patrick Stewart (whose new show premieres tonight) in supporting Ocean Alliance’s Snotbot!

You’ve heard about SNOTBOT, right?  OK, maybe you’re just visiting, so you haven’t heard about this yet.  Let me explain: few other Kickstarter pledges could be better for the future of Gloucester (and anyone who lives or visits here) than this one — really, no kidding.  You’ll be helping Ocean Alliance develop revolutionary drone technology for whale research — and there’s no telling what they might discover.  But what ever it is, you’ll be a part of it along with iconic actor Patrick Stewart (Jean Luc Picard on “Star Trek”, with a new show called “Blunt Talk” premiering TONIGHT on Starz)!

This is good for Ocean Alliance (which translates good for Gloucester because we want them to thrive here), good for whales, good for our planet, and good for all of us who will benefit from whatever they discover using this new gizmo!  So pledge now right here.

Discovery Channel at Ocean Alliance

Ian Kerr Discovery Channel interview ©kim Smith 2014 copyIain Kerr Interview with Discovery

Sunday morning Discovery Channel News was at Ocean Alliance filming a story about SnotBot, the organization’s new drone. The drone was created by a group of Olin College of Engineering students, under the direction of Professor Drew Bennet, in the College’s robotics lab.

Drew Bennet Olin College studentys Snot Bot ©Kim Smith 2014. JPG

“SnotBot will be used to collect DNA, bacteria, viruses and stress hormones from whale blows. The team also tested SnotShot, a machine that makes a simulated whale blow (with the capacity to simulate different blow types) on demand—a testing tool that will actually help the scientists in the field collect a control sample.

Olin College students Snot Bot ©kim Smith 2014

The SnotBot drone works something like this: “as SnotBot flies out to a whale that is approximately 300m from the research vessel, it hovers over a whale and the whale repeatedly blows onto a collection device. After the sample is collected and brought back to the RV Odyssey, the data is used to help interpret an animal’s state of heath through the analysis of bacteria, viruses, DNA, and stress hormones recovered from the whale’s blow.”

Read More from the Olin College of Engineering Website Here

Snot Bot Ocean Alliance Archives Here

Captain Dominic ©Kim Smith 2014Gorgeous View from the Paint Factory of the Captain Dominic Fishing Boat

See More Photos Here

Read more

Congratulations To Ocean Alliance For Being Featured In Engadget

Researchers seek permission to collect whale snot with drones (video)

Ocean Alliance and Jane Goodall

ocean alliance and jane goodall
Ocean Alliance President and founder Roger Payne is teaming up with none other than Jane Goodall for a very special meeting to raise awareness about the state of the environment. Roger will be hosting Jane at our Whale Camp in Argentina, and you can watch their meeting live online at www.whale.org/livestream on Sunday October 27th at 3 pm Gloucester time. Join us in witnessing this historic meeting!

Easy Way to Follow Ocean Alliance

To our friends near and far,
There’s a new easy way to follow Ocean Alliance – by subscribing to our e-newsletter. Just go to http://www.whale.org and enter your email address.  
You’ll will receive periodic updates about: 
  • our work in the Gulf of Mexico following up on the BP Oil Spill with our partners from “Whale Wars” –  Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
  • our robotics program with Olin College 
  • our work in Argentina studying the southern right whale for the 43rd year
  • the ongoing renovations at our new headquarters – the Paint Factory.
If you’d like daily updates and stories from the field you can follow our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/oceanalliance or on Twitter https://twitter.com/Ocean_Alliance.
Thanks for your support!
Amy Kerr

Blackfish Benefit for Ocean Alliance

“Blackfish” Screening Benefit for Ocean Alliance
On Sunday September 29th at 6:30 Cape Ann Community Cinema will be hosting a one-night-only screening of the film “Blackfish” to benefit Ocean Alliance. We’ve been hearing the buzz about this film for months and are very excited to have it in Gloucester. More a psychological thriller than a documentary, it tells the story of the killer whale Tilikum whose actions in captivity resulted in the deaths of several people and it raises the question of whether these ocean-roaming hunters should be held in tanks for our entertainment. Ocean Alliance CEO Iain Kerr will be speaking briefly before the film and answering questions afterwards. Tickets can be purchased here – http://capeanncinema.wordpress.com/advance-tickets/
See you there!

THEN and NOW–Paint Factory (A New Beginning)

A lot of people don’t realize there is an open courtyard space that runs between the brick and wooden buildings at the Paint Manufactory. (see post card image)

As part of the restoration process, one of the courtyard spaces is currently being cleaned up by Kerr and his crew.

A pretty spectacular space.


The Latest from Operation Toxic Gulf – Ocean Alliance’s Collaboration with Sea Shepherd of Animal Planet’s “Whale Wars”

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Ocean Alliance is coming to the end of its summer expedition in the Gulf of Mexico looking at the effects of the 2010 BP Oil Disaster on Gulf wildlife, particularly sperm whales. Iain Kerr, CEO of Ocean Alliance, is concerned, because of the Gulf oil spill and all that the Mississippi dumps into the Gulf of Mexico after traveling though the heartland of America, that the Gulf sperm whales could be the most polluted in the world.  The principle goal behind this campaign is to see if the massive use of dispersants in the Gulf was the right course of action for the wildlife in the Gulf.  While the dispersants removed the oil out of sight (and out of mind) there is compelling evidence to suggest that the dispersants moved the oil throughout the food chain and made the oil and dispersant mixture more bioavailable (easier to absorb or ingest by animals).  
A rarely answered question is what causes whales stress – typically the bigger the animal the less that stresses it. To try and answer that question Ocean Alliance did preliminary testing of its “Snot Bot” (developed by Olin College), a flying robot that will collect stress hormones, viruses, bacteria and DNA from whale blows.

Ocean Alliance Update

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Here’s an update from Operation Toxic Gulf, the partnership between Ocean Alliance and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in the Gulf of Mexico:
The Odyssey continues to work offshore in the Gulf of Mexico and has so far obtained 20 biopsy samples from sperm whales. The response from the Gulf community has been overwhelming with donations of food and supplies, lines to tour the Odyssey and even residents coming aboard to cook meals for the crew. Ocean Alliance CEO Iain Kerr is back in Gloucester overseeing the expedition from the Paint Factory while OA President Roger Payne leads the expedition on board. Residents of Rocky Neck will recognize crewmember Andy Rogan who is on board for the entire expedition, coordinating the science and writing blog posts on our Facebook page. Here is an excerpt from his most recent post:
“The very collaboration that we on the Odyssey are a part of brings great hope. As we continue to journey into this new century the whales will face more threats than ever before and no single individual, NGO or even methodology can address all these issues. If we can find ways to work together, to engage the general public and provide the scientific evidence needed for policy change at the governmental level then we have a good chance of protecting these magnificent creatures.”
In photos sent from the Odyssey we see Andy and Hillary Watson (niece of Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson) with a Pensacola resident demonstrating how easy it is to find tar balls on the beach. Another photo shows a pod of emaciated dolphins the crew encountered in the Gulf.

Ocean Alliance on Operation Toxic Gulf

ocean alliance
Hey E.J.,
 I wondered if I could pass along the latest from Ocean Alliance’s current campaign, “Operation Toxic Gulf” for Good Morning Gloucester readers. The R/V Odyssey is currently in the Gulf of Mexico following up on the BP Oil Spill with a combined crew from Ocean Alliance and Sea Shepherd Society (Animal Planet’s “Whale Wars”) with Iain on board. He wrote the attached blog post explaining why they’re there, and I included some photos from the campaign so far. They’re taking biopsies from sperm whales since they’re at the top of the food chain. It would be great to let people know what’s happening out of the Paint Factory. 
Thank you!!
Amy Kerr

Posting from very rough seas today in the Gulf of Mexico, we bring you the third crew blog by Ocean Alliance campaign leader Iain Kerr: on-board The R/V Odyssey for Operation Toxic Gulf.

 I spend a lot of time captaining a desk nowadays so it is good to be back at sea with old and new friends and one of my favorite species sperm whales.

 I do feel very frustrated by the lack of interest in whales in the Gulf of Mexico after the 2010 oil disaster.  I have pounded the streets contacting pretty much every funding body I know to keep the RV Odyssey at sea each summer collecting data and yet as we move farther from the event funding is getting harder to come by.  What scares me here is the fact that we have a unique toxicological experiment going on in the Gulf and we need to grab every bit of data we can – from my perspective our team is running through a burning library grabbing whatever books we can before the fire (or the chemicals used to put it out) irreparably damage or destroy the books.  This then leads to what drives me as an individual.

I am impressed again and again by the depth of human compassion how people rise to the challenge when a crisis occurs. When the Tsunami devastated the Indian Ocean over $14 billion was raised internationally.  In 2010 $3.4 billion was raised for Haiti relief in a matter of months.

During the 86 days of the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico millions of people were riveted to the video feed of oil escaping into the Gulf. They seemed to
become addicted to the live feed of an unfolding catastrophe. I thought that the
Gulf spill would be a pivotal moment in humanity’s relationship with the oceans. You can imagine, then, how stunned I was when the leak was capped and people simply changed channels and tuned out. For Gulf species and residents, the potential long-term consequences of one of the largest oil spill’s and greatest release of dispersants ever to occur on this planet are unimaginable. But with the images gone, public concern seems to vanish.

It seems that unless people have a strong, tangible image on which to focus their compassion, we are not very good at staying involved. I fail to understand how our species can be so compassionate and yet, in the case of the Gulf — the ultimate case of ocean pollution — so naive. Because the oceans are down hill from everything and gravity never sleeps, everything ends up in the seas; yet it appears that without imagery of an unfolding catastrophe everyone assumes that the oceans can take all that we throw at them.

When our President Roger Payne founded Ocean Alliance in 1971 he did so with the goal in mind of setting up a ‘pathfinder’ organization that would tackle the difficult jobs and blaze a trail. Over the last 39 years (working with our partners around the world) we have succeeded on this front at many levels, but I remain deeply concerned by the way that ‘The tragedy of the Commons’ is being played out in the oceans. Roger said in a 1979 National Geographic article, “Pollution has replaced the harpoon as a mortal threat to whales, and in its way
can be far more deadly.

Since that time, Ocean Alliance has been focusing its efforts on documenting
the levels and effects of ocean pollution on marine mammals, even though, given
our limited resources, it would be hard to tackle a more difficult job. The news on ocean pollution turns out to be deeply disturbing. Despite evidence that ocean pollution is affecting our lives and those of our children, people don’t seem to get engaged, let alone enraged about its potential consequences for whales and humanity.

Please, be enraged and get engaged!

Thanks to the support of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Global Ocean Alliance will continue to collect data in the Gulf of Mexico this year and, write scientific papers and inform educators, policy makers, and the general public on wiser stewardship of our irreplaceable oceans and their marine mammal populations, and on the links between healthy oceans and our own health.

We hope that you will join us on this journey and thank you for your support — Oceans Matter

Paint Factory–Ocean Alliance Ribbon Cutting Ceremony Supporters

IMG_2486 (2)Many Supporters attend the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and Recognition  Citation from the State of Massachusetts presented by State Senator Bruce Tarr , and State Rep Ann-Margaret Ferrante to Iain Kerr.





The great great grandson of Augustus Henry Wonson, founder of the Tarr & Wonson paint factory  also attended in support with his wife.



Paint Factory Restoration – Progress on “E” Building

IMG_0285  Ian Kerr from Ocean Alliance takes notes on progress at the Paint Factory.

They have come a long way. Removed all the paint pasted to the floors, installed radiate heat in the floors, all new walls inside, carpeting, plumbing, yet maintaining as much of the original wood as possible.

See GMG Video on the beginning.

The “E” Building is becoming a love of hard work and dedication.

This will be one of Gloucester’s Pride Land Mark.

GMG will keep you posted on this project.

Below are some photos of the Progress:



However Much More has to be done.


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