One detail about Friday that I forgot to mention in my last post: I got to observe a necropsy! A necropsy is basically an autopsy, and the biologists at the aquarium perform necropsies whenever a normally healthy animal, or an animal in a healthy tank, has died, to make sure that it doesn’t have diseases that could be passed on to the other fish. The necropsy I observed was done on a perch, which was about the size of my pinky finger. In this particular necropsy, they were looking for a monogenetic virus, which is essentially a worm with a very simple reproductive process. These worms will produce larvae, which will attach to the gills of other fish, causing suffocation, irritation, and other health problems. To see if the dead fish had monogenetic virus, the biologists will take a skin sample, a gill sample, and a fin sample. The virus is very visible under a microscope, and looks just like a big worm. Fortunately, the perch didn’t show any indication of having monogenetic virus, indicating that the entire system was safe. The necropsy was done on a really small animal, but I’m glad I got the chance to see the technique, and how to properly use all the scalpels and forceps and other tools.
Now on to Monday. I’ve talked before about the albino turtle, and how the biologists believed that it had unfertilized eggs because it wasn’t eating. It turns out that they were right, because when I went in today, there were four fairly large white eggs sitting in her tank. Interestingly, even though she laid her eggs, turtle eggs are fertilized internally, not externally. This makes the turtle somewhat similar to the human in that unfertilized eggs are dispelled from the body. It’s no wonder that the turtle didn’t want to eat, because the eggs are really big compared to the turtle’s body size. Each one is about the size of her head.
After I disposed of the turtle eggs, I did the usual duties, and got to go lay out the floss bags by myself, and I got to help with feeding again. I got to feed the turtle, who thankfully ate, and I also got to help feed the gar, which was pretty fun. After I helped with the feeding, I had to change all the floss bags, and then came the really fun part: rinsing the floss bags. Spoiler alert: by fun, I mean time-consuming and a little nasty. It wasn’t a horrible job, it just took a while, and it consisted of turning the bags inside out, so that all the food and waste particles are on the outside of the bag. Then, I laid the bag on the ground and rinsed it out with a hose, until most of the dirt and food was washed out. After that, the “clean” bags are loaded into a washing machine with bleach, and then dried. After that, they’re ready to be used again.
The reason I made the title “I’m a Big Kid Now” is because I feel like I’ve been given a lot of responsibilities and freedom over the past few days, and I almost feel like an actual employee there, instead of just an intern. I might have more responsibilities and freedom only because there’s been a staff shortage over the past few days, but like I’ve said before, it’s nice to be trusted with at least some aspect of care for the animals.