Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Necropsy Training at PTMSC!

Hello all!

Port Townsend Marine Science Center had a very exciting (and smelly) Harbor Seal pup necropsy training early last week with marine mammal veterinarians, Pete Schroeder and Betsy Lutmerding. This training was to inform our staff and stranding network volunteers how to perform a basic necropsy and collect samples/data. The purpose of a necropsy is to determine the cause of death of the animal and to collect information used for monitoring and learning about local marine mammals. During the necropsy we looked for notable wounds, unusual tissue or organs, and signs of human interaction. To search for pathogens and toxins, samples were taken of blubber, major organs, internal fluids, and stomach contents. This time collecting samples was just for the training; during future necropsies we will interpret and use the results of the analyzed samples.

Receiving Prescott Grant funding, which started in October, has made training and future necropsies possible for our stranding network. The East Jefferson County Marine Mammal Stranding Network (EJCMMSN) now has funding to install information signs at 10 beaches, create and print a brochure, improve the marine mammal stranding information on our website, plan additional trainings, and perform and analyze samples from 5 necropsies.

Chrissy Mclean (PTMSC’s Marine Program Coordinator) and I would like to thank our wonderful stranding network volunteers as well as Pete Schroeder and Betsy Lutmerding for their time, effort, and smiling faces they contribute to our stranding network. Thank you all very much!

Jen Stevens
Marine Mammal Citizen Science Assistant

(See photos from the necropsy training below! CAUTION: Photos are Graphic)

Interested in joining our team of stranding network volunteers? Contact Jean Walat at for more information!
Examining the stomach contents from one of the seal pups– all that was found were a few very small fish bones. Photo by Richard Smith

Marine Mammal Veterinarian Betsy Lutmerding measuring the blubber layer during the necropsy training. Photo by Sandy

PTMSC staff, stranding network volunteers, and marine mammal veterinarians worked together to perform two successful Harbor Seal pup necropsies. Photo by Sandy Dengler

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