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The Marine Mammal Research and Conservation Program’s Dr. C. Dana Bossart Necropsy Laboratory is a state-of-the-art animal pathology facility, conceived and designed by Stephen McCulloch and Dr. Gregory Bossart. Modeled after human and medical facilities, the Laboratory provides the most effective means to perform post-mortem forensic and life history examinations on large marine mammals. Our facility is only one of three in Florida that is authorized by the National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) to provide in-depth post-mortem forensics of previously stranded sick or injured marine mammals. This laboratory provides a unique and comprehensive venue to train aquatic animal pathology to visiting veterinary residents, interns, and students. The Laboratory contains the same tools found at the best veterinary and human teaching facilities.
The Necropsy Laboratory enables our veterinarians and researchers to determine the primary cause of death of individual marine mammals. Our findings provide invaluable insights into disease, environmental and/or anthropogenic (caused by humans) stressors affecting marine mammal populations inhabiting our oceans and estuaries. As “sentinel species”, marine mammals are at the top of the food chain and reflect the health of these vital marine regions and resources on which all mankind depends.
The information gathered from our extensive post-mortem examinations is documented, archived, and shared with collaborators around the world. Valuable information, including an animal’s age, sex, diet, disease status, and location, aides in assessing the overall health and location of marine mammal populations. All of these invaluable “Life History” data are stored in a centralized database managed by NMFS.