In 2010, I was chasing whales in the Gulf of Mexico. To land a shot, you have to get within 30 or 40 feet. One day, after more than four near misses, we spotted a big animal just as the sun was going down. As we got close, its blowhole, which is akin to a nostril, sprayed all over us—and then the animal dived before we could get a sample. Enveloped in this cloud of stinky, horrible whale snot, I thought: Anything this stinky and horrible has to be productive. It turns out whale blow has some of the same molecules that flesh does. I began thinking about how to collect snot.