Below the Surface: Parley SnotBot® & Intel Bring New Tech to Whale Research



Using modified drones and artificial intelligence, marine scientists can now identify and assess data on the health of whales and the oceans in real time.



“It is rare for a new tool to come into the research field of such a transformative, disruptive nature. Most tools are job specific – drills drill holes well, but they do not take photographs. SnotBot® now crosses multiple disciplines from biology to photogrammetry and animal behavior. This tool is also affordable, so it is replicable and scalable.”

– Dr. Iain Kerr, Parley Chief Scientist



Everybody loves whales – and yet, we know so little about them. The collaborative team behind Parley SnotBot® is on a mission to change the story using new tools, stronger data, and better insights. On a recent expedition to Alaska, leading whale scientists and Intel Corporation technology experts came together to test drone-enabled, non-invasive research methods powered by drones and artificial intelligence.

The results are game-changing; researchers can now identify whales and assess data on their health and the oceans in real time, without harassing the animals in their environment.

With the help of Intel, Parley SnotBot® marine researchers can make more informed decisions in the field with unprecedented precision and speed. This means our collective knowledge of the secret lives of whales could expand exponentially. The more we know about whales, the better we can protect them. Whales are the largest guardians of the ecosystem sustaining our survival. Protecting them isn't just the right thing to do; it's in our own self-interest.

Under the leadership of marine biologist Dr. Iain Kerr, Parley Chief Scientist and CEO of Ocean Alliance, past Parley SnotBot® expeditions have established a wide database which includes at least five cetacean species: humpbacks, blue whales, right whales, gray whales, and orcas. Intel is supporting the mission with its artificial intelligence (AI) and drone technologies, improving accuracy and efficiency of data analyses in the field, thereby amplifying the impacts of each expedition.

On the most recent Alaska trip, the full capacity of SnotBot® as a transformative scientific tool was extended to include biological data, photogrammetry, volumetrics, photo ID, and behavioral data. With Intel technology, the research team was able to immediately identify whales from past expeditions (using their unique fluke "fingerprints") and simultaneously gather data on marine health. This union of expertise and technology empowers researchers to make more immediate, data-backed decisions that can inform the longer-term health of our oceans and humanity.

The power of Parley SnotBot® and this collaborative approach to research is captured in a film directed by Keith Malloy of Farm League. Watch the recap below. 

Learn more about the collaboration at




"Humanity's future is in our oceans. Our vision is to create a global network of digital exploration tools which generate the big data we need to identify threats with new speed and precision, so we can act on them instantly."

Cyrill Gutsch, founder of Parley for the Oceans.


“Intel is excited by the promise that artificial intelligence and large-scale problem solving offer to scientific research and exploration. Through the Parley SnotBot® expeditions, we now understand the deeper insights and extensive benefits that artificial intelligence can bring to research efforts and marine expeditions.”

– Naveen Rao, VP and general manager, Artificial Intelligence Products Group, Intel Corporation


About Parley SnotBot®

Parley SnotBot® is dedicated to advancing research and education focused on conserving whales and the oceans that sustain them—which in turn sustains us. With the vision and commitment to preserve and protect ocean habitats and wildlife, this quest launches with a series of collaborative expeditions through which Parley and Ocean Alliance deploy non-invasive methods and tools that allow researchers to better study whales in the wild. See past expeditions in Patagonia, Sea of Cortez, & Gulf of Alaska.

Parley SnotBot® is a flagship initiative of the Parley Deep Space Program, a mission to engage the ocean, science, and creative communities in a collaborative process to boost the environmental movement with knowledge-sharing, open-sourced data networks, and new technologies and materials to better explore and protect the oceans.


What is a SnotBot®?

SnotBot® is a modified drone that collects the blow, or snot, exhaled from whales when they surface to breathe. Learn more from the tool’s co-creators, Ocean Alliance. Earbot™ and Snotbot® are registered trademarks of Ocean Alliance. US footage filmed under NMFS permit 18636-01.

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