Porpoises in the necropsy room

As a marine biologist and head of Strandings Investigation, Lonneke IJsseldijk regularly shares photos and videos about her research on Instagram with more than 2800 followers. Recently, she shared a series of photos about the necropsy of a porpoise, with each photo showing different organs.

Take a look inside, where the anatomy and pathology of all organ systems are revealed layer by layer.

The first layer, called blubber, has been removed. This is the energy reserve of these animals; their insulation layer to stay warm in an often cold environment. The dark red colour of the skeletal muscles is visible in this photo. This is because cetaceans have higher concentrations of myoglobin in their muscles than terrestrial mammals. Myoglobin is a red protein that transports and stores oxygen. The high concentration of oxygen in the muscles of cetaceans is one of the many physiological adaptations to living in water.

In the next photo, the lungs are visible on the left, while the diaphragm covers the abdominal organs. After the removal of the diaphragm, the abdominal organs, such as the liver, stomachs, intestines and reproductive organs can be seen in the third photo. In the last photo, all of the organs have been removed, exposing the spine (top) and inside of the ribs (under).

Follow IJsseldijk and the strandings research projects on Instagram: @strandingresearch

Text: Jelle Boontje