Drones help scientists weigh whales at sea

biologist     A scientist involved in the study of living things.

breed      (verb) To produce offspring through reproduction.

computer program     A set of instructions that a computer uses to perform some analysis or computation. The writing of these instructions is known as computer programming.

crustaceans     Hard-shelled water-dwelling animals including lobsters, crabs and shrimp.

density     The measure of how compact some object is, found by dividing its mass by its volume.

development     (in biology) The growth of an organism from conception through adulthood, often undergoing changes in chemistry, size and sometimes even shape. (in economics and social sciences) The conversion of land from its natural state into another so that it can be used for housing, agriculture, or resource development.

drone     A remote-controlled, pilotless aircraft or missile.

ecology      A branch of biology that deals with the relations of organisms to one another and to their physical surroundings. A scientist who works in this field is called an ecologist.

environment     The sum of all of the things that exist around some organism or the process and the condition those things create. Environment may refer to the weather and ecosystem in which some animal lives, or, perhaps, the temperature and humidity (or even the placement of things in the vicinity of an item of interest).

fat     A natural oily or greasy substance occurring in plants and in animal bodies, especially when deposited as a layer under the skin or around certain organs. Fat’s primary role is as an energy reserve. Fat also is a vital nutrient, though it can be harmful if consumed in excessive amounts.

fluctuate     (n. fluctuation) To vary at irregular intervals and often by amounts that are hard to predict.

juvenile     Young, sub-adult animals. These are older than “babies” or larvae, but not yet mature enough to be considered an adult.

laser     A device that generates an intense beam of coherent light of a single color. Lasers are used in drilling and cutting, alignment and guidance, in data storage and in surgery.

mammal     A warm-blooded animal distinguished by the possession of hair or fur, the secretion of milk by females for feeding their young, and (typically) the bearing of live young.

marine     Having to do with the ocean world or environment.

marine biologist     A scientist who studies creatures that live in ocean water, from bacteria and shellfish to kelp and whales.

mass     A number that shows how much an object resists speeding up and slowing down — basically a measure of how much matter that object is made from.

Pacific     The largest of the world’s five oceans. It separates Asia and Australia to the west from North and South America to the east.

peninsula     A parcel of land that is that is attached to the mainland but surrounded by water on three sides.

physiologist     A scientist who studies the branch of biology that deals with how the bodies of healthy organisms function under normal circumstances.

pixel     Short for picture element. A tiny area of illumination on a computer screen, or a dot on a printed page, usually placed in an array to form a digital image. Photographs are made of thousands of pixels, each of different brightness and color, and each too small to be seen unless the image is magnified.

sea     An ocean (or region that is part of an ocean). Unlike lakes and streams, seawater — or ocean water — is salty.

social     (adj.) Relating to gatherings of people; a term for animals (or people) that prefer to exist in groups. (noun) A gathering of people, for instance those who belong to a club or other organization, for the purpose of enjoying each other’s company.

species     A group of organisms that share many genetic and physical traits, and that are more closely related to each other than to any other group. Among some animals, for instance, this might involve individuals that can mate and produce viable offspring. Naming something as a species helps give different people a consistent way of talking about the same group of living organisms. This is true for scientists, for people making laws or for anyone who wants to understand the relatedness of organisms.

technology     The application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry — or the devices, processes and systems that result from those efforts.

whale     A common, but fairly imprecise, term for a class of large mammals that lives in the ocean. This group includes dolphins and porpoises.

zooplankton     Small organisms that drift in the sea. Zooplankton are tiny animals that eat other plankton. They also serve as an important food source for other marine creatures.

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