Friday, November 9, 2012

November 8, 2011 - Ocean Sunfish Stranding in Brewster

Ocean Sunfish stranding at Breakwater Beach, Brewster MA

This morning, Krill received a call from Merriellen who lives in Eastham. She was walking Breakwater Beach looking for cold-stunned turtles for Mass Audubon when she found a dead ocean sunfish just off the parking lot. Krill headed down to Brewster to try and find this carcass on the low tide. Michael Sprague from Mass Audubon at Wellfleet Bay took time out of his busy schedule to help as well.
Merriellen putting the strap under the carcass. 

Merriellen and her husband Michael met Krill and Michael Sprague (MA Audubon) back on the beach later that day to help collect body measurements and to photograph this animal. Working as a team, Merriellen, her husband Michael and Michael Sprague helped Krill weigh this carcass which came in at a little over 260 pounds. This was not a fresh carcass so the weight does not reflect the true weight of this animal before its death.

Merriellen and Michael Sprague helping secure the straps under the fish. 
Then this team worked together to conduct an internal examination of this carcass. Unforutnately, we wer enot able to determine the gender of this carcass for scavengers had eaten away this organ. But we were able to collect tissue samples including the a section of the liver, a section of the vertebra and the eye lens. These tissues will be used for later analysis as we try to better understand this unusual, but fascinating fish.

Merriellen's husband Michael lending a hand. 

A big thank you to Merriellen and her husband Michael for their help with the necropsy today. So great to meet such amazing people who are enthusiastic and passionate about wildlife and their protection. Merriellen, keep up the great work with your sea turtle rescues and keep us posted on any additional ocean sunfish strandings on this beach.

Merriellen using the chain lift to lift the fish off the beach for weighing. 
Thanks also to Michael Sprague who has helped Krill with quite a few ocean sunfish examinations this season. Love his enthusiasm and support as well.