Posts Tagged ‘necropsy’

Sea lion necropsy at Weir’s Beach

February 1, 2017

After learning from Ivonne yesterday that there was a dead sea lion at Weir’s Beach and after getting permission from DFO, first and second year Biology students participated in a necropsy of a California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) this morning.


Above is how we found it initially yesterday (31 January 2017) – apparently the sea lion washed up on Weir’s Beach, headless, on 20 January.

We began the necropsy by opening up the abdominal cavity.

We excised the liver, stomach and small intestine.

Several students worked on stretching out the small intestine then they measured it to be 51.7 m long!

We then moved into the thoracic cavity, after cutting through the blubber and thick, dark red pectoral muscles.

The heart, right lung and and trachea were removed and examined by students.

We were blasted by sand and a bitterly cold wind throughout, but students remained engaged & interested. An amazing opportunity!

The photo below is my favourite – Emily is holding the mesentery in the wind.

mesentarySee Flickr page for many more photos.

Harbour seal necropsy 2014

September 16, 2014

On Saturday 13 September, many students observed or got directly involved in the necropsy of the little female harbour seal (Phoca vitulina) that we found in the mudflats last week.



With permission from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, we examined the body of the seal inside and out…



Two students, Haruna & Mariam, carefully teased apart the small intestine, stretched it out and measured it to be 12.8 m long.  All that intestine in a seal that was only 0.82 m long!




We did examine many organs but could not determine the cause of death.





A very unique opportunity for many Pearson College students! Thanks to all involved including the many photographers.


This is one of my favourite photos from the event… the lens from one of the eyes, which you may be able to see has inverted the image behind it.

Updates from year 38 marine scientists

June 6, 2013

Good news from Laas about the leader of the iron enrichment project off Haida Gwaii last year: Haida terminate ocean fertilization proponent Russ George

A very exciting website for an NGO, one of the very, very few, which attempts to conserve the coral reefs in the Red Sea from Mohamed.

And a fun video from Jon dating back to our sea lion necropsy:


Double-crested cormorant necropsy

January 23, 2013

Yesterday afternoon, Théa spotted a dead Double crested cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) laying on the ground beside the flagpole on the director’s lawn.

DCCO on lawn

DCCO on lawn2

Based on the damage to the neck and chest we suspect predation by a peregrine falcon.

DCCO wound

This morning we did a necropsy on the cormorant and were particularly impressed with the heart and the trachea & bronchi.

DCCO necropsy

DCCO heart & trachea

Where are they now? – Erickson

November 30, 2012


…is in the mouth of a sperm whale!

Erickson (PC 36, USA) is currently attending College of the Atlantic (COA) where he has had the opportunity to do some very unique necropsies. A 50 foot / 15 m long adult sperm whale, a 20 foot / 6 m long humpback whale calf and recently a 6 foot / 2 m long male leatherback turtle.


Erickson is the one in the white suit and yellow hard hat to the left of the large vertebral column above.



Next term he is participating in a SEA semester program called “Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems” during which he will spend a month in Woods Hole, Massachusetts then seven weeks on a schooner, sailing from Tahiti to Hawai’i.

While at Pearson College, Erickson was a very keen Marine Science student and diver and he was instrumental in the necropsy and articulation of the California sea lion skeleton that is currently hanging in the floating lab.

Sea lion necropsy 2012

November 13, 2012

Yesterday, Monday 12 November, many Pearson College students were involved in a necropsy of a male California sea lion. We began by towing the carcass to the maintenance dock.

Then pulling it up on to the shore.

Several measurements were recorded.

Standard length: 2.10 m

Curvilinear length: 2.21 m

Anterior length of foreflipper: 57 cm

Axillary flipper length: 45 cm

Widest foreflipper length: 58 cm

Anterior length of hindflipper: 43 cm

Widest hindflipper length: 34 cm

Tail length: 10 cm

Blubber thickness: 4-6 mm

We then cut into the abdominal cavity.

The intestines were removed, stretched out and measured to be 45 m!

Other organs were also removed from the abdominal cavity…

…including the stomach which was opened and found to be empty…

…and the liver.

The heart was also removed and cuts were made into the two ventricles (L and R in photo below).

At one point we needed to roll the sea lion up the shore as the tide was coming in…a significant challenge!

Although it is not clear to us why this particular sea lion died, this was an incredibly valuable experience for many Marine Science and Biology students.