Back at the Lab…….

Good Morning from the Land of the Midnight Sun!  It is twelve minutes past midnight and it looks like its 10 am in the morning here!  The sun is shining brightly-another beautiful day awaits us.

Here we are conducting a post-mortem examination of the ringed seal tissues and collecting tissues for everyone’s various research projects.  Sara and I were joined by fellow wildlife  biologist, Dr. Todd Sformo.  I always welcome the help!  This was Sara’s first time sampling and collecting tissues from a seal and she did wonderful!  She will be in charge next week when I head 90 miles down the coast to the village of Wainwright to sample seals and walruses from hunters in that village.

Sara Carroll, MS Student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks in the Lara Dehn Lab

When you work in such a remote area, you often learn to make due with the supplies and equipment that you have available.  I realize how spoiled I am at the Veterinary Medical Diagnostics Lab to have access to everything that I could possibly need!  Case in point, I don’t have access to an autopsy saw, so removal of the brain is more challenging.  I used a 6 inch  hand saw to remove the brain from one of the ringed seals that was still intact.  With a little persistence and some assistance from Todd, I was successful in my attempt to remove the brain in one piece!

A ringed seal necropsy can last up to 2 hours by the time I examine all of the visceral organs and collect tissues for all of the various projects.  I spend a lot of time collecting tissues because the opportunity to collect such high quality tissues is rare, and I owe the generous people of the North Slope.  They have placed their trust in me, many of them opening up their hearts and homes to me.  The least I can do for them is do a thorough job of examining the health of the animals that feed and clothe them!

I will talk about some of my histological findings in the ringed seals that I have examined in a future post.  We have an exciting week ahead  of us, for it is time for giving thanks for the whales.  I shall post pictures from past celebrations in anticipation of the feasts that will be occuring later this week and next week.

Good night from the Land of the Midnight Sun!

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