Going ‘under the knife’ at the National Marine Aquarium


26th February 2018

The National Marine Aquarium has partnered with Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP) to invite visitors to join them for a unique experience. On 20th March, the Aquarium will welcome visitors into the state-of-the-art laboratory to witness a dolphin post-mortem. The evening is part of the NMA Lates series, which are adult only events giving visitors the opportunity to explore the Aquarium after hours.

Experts from the CSIP will perform a real-life dissection as visitors watch on in the Aquarium’s education laboratory gallery. The team will guide visitors through its investigation and demonstrate how vital information is gathered and analysed. Visitors will learn how they determine the cause of death and what it can tell us about the threats facing the species.

Every year, around 600 porpoises, dolphins and whales strand around the UK’s coastline. CSIP is responsible for investigating why these strandings occur and if they are caused by human activity. In order to understand the reasons behind their deaths, CSIP conduct an in-depth post-mortem of the stranded animals.

Nicola Murray, Head of Discovery and Learning at the National Marine Aquarium, commented: “We are thrilled to be working alongside ZSL and CSIP to offer the public a unique glimpse of the work undertaken by CSIP. This is the first time the Aquarium has held such an event, we are really looking forward to visitors join us for the exclusive opportunity to see a live post-mortem.

“The findings from the post-mortem will be used to support further research into why cetaceans strand throughout the UK and hopefully provide vital clues that will enable better conservation in the future.”

UK cetacean stranding facts:

  • From 1990 to 2014, CSIP investigated the stranding of 22 species, over 12,000 cetaceans
  • The biggest cause of death is bycatch/entanglement in fishing nets
  • The most common cetacean to strand is the Harbour Porpoise
  • Since 1990, CSIP has conducted over 3,500 necropsies

Please be aware the evening will feature a live dissection, so only over-18s may attend the event. Tickets will cost £7.50.

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