Monthly Archives

October 2018

The future of drones at HUBweek

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CEO Iain Kerr and Robotics Manager Chris Zadra took SnotBot on the road down to Boston to participate in Aerial Futures: The Drone Frontier. Created and curated by swissnex Boston, Aerial Futures looked at the changes coming to our lives through the increasing adoption and implementation of professional drone technology.
Drones hover on the horizon of a rapidly developing technological landscape, allowing for new and imaginative applications of AI, flight technology, 3D imaging, and other burgeoning fields.

Iain presented an afternoon talk on SnotBot that was so popular the organizers had to add a second edition of the talk. He also gave the keynote address on the first evening of the conference. There was a constant stream of visitors to the SnotBot table, and even in an exhibition space full of cool drones, people were impressed with what we’re doing with SnotBot.




Listening to whales

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By Chris Zadra, robotics manager

Six months ago I was sitting in a hotel room in Des Moines, Iowa, with a very unglamorous field test engineering job, when I got a message on LinkedIn about an interesting new job opportunity. Never before then would I have imagined I would now be sitting at a desk looking out over the ocean in Gloucester, MA, writing about my first SnotBot expedition to Gabon.

I didn’t quite know what to expect, but at least I wasn’t the only one feeling that way, since the team was headed to a brand new SnotBot location. It was certainly a trip of extremes. Every day presented us with a new challenge to overcome, be it wind, rain, equipment failures, wet boat, lack of cash or speaking French. Yet no matter the challenge we tackled every obstacle that came our way and ended with the most successful SnotBot sample collection size to date. I think that says a lot about the quality of our team at Ocean Alliance. And to note, that team is much larger than the four of us that went to Gabon. No trip would be successful without all the logistics, preparation and support that goes on at Ocean Alliance HQ by Britta, Mark, Ann, and of course none of it would be possible without our amazing donors. As Gordon Buchanan of the BBC said, we’re “a team of consummate professionals.” His words not ours. I’m honored to now be a part of this team and excited for the future.

One of my favorite experiences while in Gabon was listening to whales singing live using our hydrophone and a pair of headphones. I even was at one point flying a drone over our boat while simultaneously listening to the most incredible whale sounds. (The whales were in fact so close that you could feel their sounds echoing through our boat.) It was a pretty surreal moment to be looking down at this muddy water from 400 feet up where I could see nothing but our little boat floating on top – and Andy swimming around at the surface – but at the same time I was listening to the sounds of the majestic and mysterious life underwater. It just makes you realize how attached many of us are to land and how much we take our ocean for granted. As Iain has said before, it’s easy to see when changes happen on land, but the oceans always seem unchanged to us. Hopefully, with the continued success of SnotBot and our future ventures here at Ocean Alliance, we can help change perspectives about our ocean and make a lasting impact.

Hack for the Sea

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Celebrating art and love at the Paint Factory

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Since the latest round of renovations was completed at the Tarr & Wonson Paint Factory, members of our community have been putting the buildings to some very good uses.

Ocean Alliance friends Jessica Biker and Melissa Cox put on two editions of There’s More to Sea, shows of paintings, photography, and ceramics by local artists, one in July and one in September. The art looked wonderful against the brick interior of in the Paint Factory’s buildings, and both shows were resounding successes. The artists generously donated 20 percent of their sales to support further building renovations.

We also hosted two weddings in September, both of which took advantage of the gorgeous views of Gloucester Harbor by setting up dining tables outdoors. (Luckily the weather was gorgeous for both weddings.)


Speaking of SnotBot …

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A radio interview, a TV interview, and a SnotBot talk — Ocean Alliance CEO Iain Kerr certainly did a lot of talking last week!

First, on Wednesday at lunchtime, Iain spoke to Gordon Baird about coming to Gloucester, the Paint Factory, and Ocean Alliance. Then Wednesday evening, Iain, along with JC Gutierrez-Ramos from Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute and  Endicott College Assistant Dean of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Justin Topp, Ph.D., talked about biotech and life sciences in Gloucester on Cape Ann Report.

Iain got to catch his breath on Thursday, but Friday he was talking again, this time giving a presentation about SnotBot and the Drones for Whale Research program and talking about Paint Factory renovations to a members of the Manchester Harbor Boat Club right here at our headquarters on Rocky Neck.