Living on the edge of the Salish Sea, we only see the periphery of the vast and complex diversity in our local waters. On rare occasions, we get the special opportunity to be up close and personal with extraordinary creatures of the cold, watery vastness. Through our close relationship with the local officials at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), the Port Townsend Marine Science Center (PTMSC) received a fisherman’s donation of a large squid specimen for use in our education programs. I was privileged to lead this unique experience with our other staff for 15 exuberant summer campers and a dozen inquisitive onlookers.
From “Squid-sicle” to Dissection Day
The Large Dissection - Step by Step
With many bodies in a small space, I introduced students to our tools: necropsy table, buckets, step-stools, and a cart holding dissection tools.
Step 2: Weigh the squid
The squid was weighed, with it’s surrounding liquid, in the 20-gallon bucket . The squid was lifted onto the table, and then the bucket and liquid were weighed again without the squid. The squid weight was determined by subtracting the second weight from the first.
Step 3: Arrange the squid
We identified the main body parts (mantle, arms,
Step 4: Take measurements
I invited students to help hold the measuring tape and read off dimensions so that our other AmeriCorps, Ashleigh Pilkerton, and a handful of campers could record them on the data sheet.
Step 5: Open up the mantle cavity
Students “drum-rolled” on the edge of the necropsy table while I cut up the center of the ventral (siphon) side of the mantle.
Step 6: Identify organs
While we talked about parts of the larger squid we used a check-list on the data sheet to quiz students on what they’d just learned about the anatomy of their small squids . Highlights included: finding the stomach, stomach contents, and spiral caeca; removing the beak; and finding the ganglia and large axons.