– [Narrator] The University of
Alaska Fairbanks research teams
are harnessing new technologies, developing innovative approaches and fostering partnerships
through a One Health model in groundbreaking new ways. – There’s some pretty neat big projects going on in the state right now. Using new technology to understand our physical and biological world. We are one of the world
leaders in unmanned aircraft, and how that can be used
for things like sea ice, for wildfire detection, for
following migrations of animals, including whales. – Large whales in Alaska basically serve as a canary in the coal mine. – [Arleigh] The whales are
a sentinel species for us. They’re big, they live a long time, and they travel over a
huge part of the ocean. They eat a lot of food every day. – [Kelly] They’re feeding
lower on the trophic scale. – In the past, usually
what we’ve had to do is either wait for a whale to die. And, you know, we’re not
getting a random sample, we’re getting a sample
of a whale that died. Or you go up and you shoot
a small dart into the whale, and it takes a small piece
of their skin and blubber, and we analyze that. But even that doesn’t
give us as good a picture of the whole whale. – We started this adventure using a 21 foot carbon fiber
pole from a little skiff, and we’d chase whales
around, with a permit, and it was really hard, and
we didn’t get great samples, and I oftentimes got more blow in my face than I did onto the actual Petri dish. And so, we were thinking
about ways to do this better. – The BLaST program, which is the Biomedical Learning and
Student Training program has funded us to purchase some drones. These unmanned aircraft
then we have modified such that they can carry
things like a Petri dish. – And when the whale comes up to spout, they have a drone that will swoop down and actually gather some of the material that comes out of that spout. – [Shannon] And these Petri dishes, then we can bring back to the labs. – So you don’t have to
get as close to a whale, they don’t necessarily
know that you’re there. So you’re collecting all
this data very rapidly, and very quickly, and it’s very exciting as a marine mammal researcher, ’cause we generally
operate with sample sizes in the tens to maybe
fifties if we’re lucky. And now we’re getting into the thousands. So we’re getting into that big data realm. – The One Health Initiative
is really fabulous. – We live and breathe Arctic issues. Climate change is affecting the Arctic at a faster rate than
anywhere else in the planet. – It’s very important to monitor
the health of these whales because they’re
consistently being eaten by Arctic indigenous communities. – To that extent, a lot of our work helps to focus on the food
security of subsistence hunting. – Continuing research on
the health of marine mammals is very important, because in turn, we’re also monitoring the
health of indigenous people.