Sunday, December 22, 2013

Just back from my first necropsy.

Definition of NECROPSY. : autopsy 1; especially : an autopsy performed on an animal. 

Yep.

Really.

So, you may want to pass on reading today's post.

No shame if you're a tad queasy.   Just move along and I'll see you back here for my next, non-yucky post.

OK.  Did they go ?  And you decided to stay ?  Good for you.  It's not really that bad.


It all started yesterday when I took Wendy and Sooki for a foggy walk along the shore of the Hartlen Point Golf Course.

  


It was damp and drizzly, but above freezing.  


We followed the "back rounds" created for the use of the grounds keepers, that lead to the holes closest to the ocean.


Nearing the shore I noticed something was drawing the dogs' attention.  Can you see it ?


Sooki was very curious but I convinced her not to roll on the curious thing that she and Wendy had found.  


What they had found -- I later learned -- was an Atlantic White-sided Dolphin.  Needless to say, it was a DECEASED,  Atlantic White-sided Dolphin.


Once back home I did some Googling to see who might me interested in my find, and came across this group.


Though they prefer to be involved in the rescue of live Cetaceans, they are interested in dead 'uns too.  

And so that brings us to today.

Today I met Andrew from "M.A.R.S" at the gates to Hartlen Point, in order to take him to the body.   It was an almost 2 km walk in a non-stop misty rain and driving wind, and I knew he'd never find it on his own, and besides, I was curious.

This is where we get to the "necropsy" bit.  The lovely folk at M.A.R.S. are interested in learning as much as they can from these carcasses. 

Once at the scene, Andrew took out a metal clipboard and I became his scribe as he called out various measurements to me.  



He measured her flukes, her fins, her head, her nose and her girth -- we cheated and just did the half of her girth, knowing that we could double the figure to get the complete girth.  We learned she was a "she".  She was just over two metres (6 feet) long and probably close to being full-grown.

Because it was bitchin' cold on the ocean side where her body lay, Andrew could not check out her internal organs so we had to settle for just checking out the thickness of her blubber at various locations on her body, and pulling a couple of teeth for later examination.

You can see the square places where Andrew excised  sections of blubber?

Andrew could tell right away that her fat layer was not as thick at it should have been, and that might have contributed to her death.  He said he had seen that thickness in much younger dolphins.  He also told me that one of her teeth would be sent to a researcher in the U.S. who specializes in the Atlantic White-sided Dolphin.

Part of me was sad to be seeing a dead dolphin, but part of me was happy that perhaps by contacting M.A.R.S. I had contributed in some small way to increasing our knowledge about these marvellous creatures.

We were both pretty sodden as we trekked back to our cars, but I felt grateful to have been involved, if only a teeny, tiny bit, in this fascinating work.


20 comments:

  1. Who would have thought? Necropsy, you say. I am glad you got involved, Sybil.

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    1. Congratulations on making it through my whole blog post ! Not sure how many will. I honestly found it all fascinating.

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    2. Perhaps you have a bit of a scientist in you, Sybil.

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    3. I'd love to have a microscope and I have all sorts of magnifying glasses and love getting up close and personal with nature ... maybe in another life Kathy.

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  2. I am also glad I stayed to read the whole post, Sybil. What an interesting story! Do you know what caused the dolphin's death? Was it the fact that she didn't eat enough and thus had too little blubber to survive the cold?

    P.S. Given the strange acronym of M.A.R.S., I had almost expected an extra-terrestrial slant to the whole story... mind you, don't dolphins supposedly come from another galaxy?

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    1. I doubt from the material Andrew took that a cause of death could be determined. They'll learn her age from her tooth. I think they'd need the internal organs or at least a look "inside" to get a more accurate idea of what caused her death. There was also some "tooth scratching" patterns on her back. Surface markings perhaps from her interactions with other Dolphins. Were they helping her ? or driving her from the pod ? Dunno

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  3. Now that is interesting. I',m glad that you happened upon on the dolphin. It gives the researchers more data and I'm sure all those involved in M.A.R.S. was glad to yet one more piece of a puzzle.

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  4. The necropsy was not disturbing to me. No different than seeing a dead chicken cut up and packaged at the grocry store or looking at cuts of beef that came from a calf, steer, cow or how about all those pork chops?

    I don't eat any meat except fish and would not if I did not need the extra protein. I can not get enough protein just from grains and soy. I'm not a vegetarian since I eat fish.

    This became off topic but just trying to get a point across. :-)

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  5. I eat fish too. I'd eat meat that was organic, humanely raised and killed but that can be pretty pricey.

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  6. Thanks Sybil, for not just walking away from the dolphin, and for taking the time to look up who to call, and then showing the fellow the place where you found her. I am very interested in whales and dolphins, in fact sea life in general, and I think that what you did will help out in the research done in Atlantic Canada. Thanks again.

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  7. way to go YOU !! fascinating stuff and comforting to know that organizations such as M.A.R.S take these random deaths so seriously. Happy Holidays to you & your gang xoxox Susan & my gang ;-)

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    1. Susan, and now you'll know who to call if you stumble across something similar in your neck of the woods.

      Happy New Year kiddo !

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  8. Sad but interesting real story, Sybil. You did very well in contacting the M.A.R.S. researchers, every information is meaningful to them to better understand and protect these beautiful dolphins. Thanks for taking so many pictures to show us.

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  9. Thanks. I'd like to be a biologist in my next life !

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  10. Too bad more couldn't have been done with her body. This is fascinating and I applaud you on taking action. When I was just a kid, one of our foals was born dead. My mom took it's body to the County extension office where I watched a man perform a necropsy on it. I don't remember why it had died, but what I remember is how fascinated I was with the process, (after that initial incision, the sound of which made my hair stand on end.) I was amazed to see that the insides of a horse looked remarkably like the insides of the Invisible Horse model I had put together.

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    1. I think it's a bit of a seasonal dance between when it is too freakin' cold to get to the internal organs and when it's too darn hot.

      Sad about the foal, but what an amazing learning experience for a child.

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  11. I am upon two bottlenose dolphin carcasses this summer, we lost close to 400 in the mid-Atlantic this summer from a measles-like infection. Be thankful your dolphin was found on a winter chilled beach, and not on a hot Carolina shore.

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    1. I get your drift ... Andrew told me the yukky story of someone who had to dodge exploding innards during a "too-hot" necropsy.

      That's said about that awful die-off in your area.

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