Dr. C. Dana Bossart Necropsy Laboratory
This research is funded by proceeds from the Protect Wild Dolphins and Protect Florida Whales specialty license plates.
- Multiple post-mortem forensic examinations
- Live video conferencing of necropsy procedures
- Long-term storage of representative biological tissue samples
- Long-term storage of paper records
- 2 custom-designed stainless-steel surgical tables
- Large walk in cooler
- Stainless steel surgical grade knives, dissection tools, and cutting boards
- Compound microscope
- On-site computer station
- Advance video conferencing camera
- Records room/technician offices
- Climate control
- Specialized hood for tissue processing and preparation
- The average time to perform a thorough forensic examination of an adult Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) is approximately 8 hours.
- Our record of simultaneous marine mammal necropsies was 8 rough-toothed dolphins (Steno bredanensis) with over 20 staff, volunteers, and collaborators and 3 marine mammal veterinarians for over 15 consecutive hours, following a mass stranding of the species on the beaches of Indian River and St. Lucie County.
- The two most commonly examined animals are the Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) and the Pygmy Sperm Whale (Kogia breviceps).
- A large whale heart can weigh up to 2,400 pounds and be up to 18 feet in length.
- Pathologists are able to diagnose a disease microscopically with 1-cm square piece of tissue examined from a large organ regardless of the original organ’s size.
- The age of a dolphin is determined by microscopic examination of a tooth. Like rings on an aging tree, dolphin teeth lay down layers of dentin each year of their life. These layers are then counted under a specialized microscope to determine the dolphin’s age.