So last week, I got to watch a necropsy being performed on a seal, and this week I actually got to help with a necropsy of a baby orca that washed up on a beach in Juneau! This is an extremely rare event because the body of a killer whale is so dense, it usually sinks after the animal dies. This baby was so small; it was only about 7 feet long. I can't actually post pictures of the orca because of federal laws, unfortunately, but it was in the perfect spot to work on him, minus the rocks I guess... They were slippery. But he was far up the beach and super close to the trail. We first started by taking off the blubber and getting samples to be tested, then went into the muscle. The bones were kept so they could be reconstructed. The cool thing about this animal was that it was not a still born, but it was only a few days to maybe a week or two old. This find will give us a lot of information about newborn calves! Genetic analysis will tell us which type of orca it is (resident-fish eating, transient-mammal eating, or offshore-shark eating). We had gotten out to the beach around 8am and were all done with it on the beach by noon. The blubber was thrown into the ocean and the rest was brought back with us in small pieces. We went back to the NOAA lab and took samples of all the organs and did a further analysis of the body inside the necropsy lab. This was such an amazing experience for a marine scientist, but especially as an undergraduate! I was so excited, I had to get a picture with my orca hat! I'm definately one step closer to finding Willy!