The first cut is always the deepest, even when it comes to science. In this regard I’m talking about necropsies, or an animal autopsy. A necropsy can be daunting, knowing you are about to cut open an animal that was once among the living, but the forethought of it’s only for science. This past Wednesday marked my second necropsy endeavor. It was a juvenile male harbor seal rescued by IFAW off the coast of Eastham, MA. The poor seal first came into the hospital with a respiratory disease, injuries to the jaw with teeth missing and lacerations to the flippers and body. After fully dissecting the mammal, it was easy to see why he didn’t make it through his first night at NMLC. Now having two necropsies under my belt, it has put things into perspective – don’t get attached to these adorable beings. This is no easy feat for an animal lover like me, you wish for only positive outcomes, but sometimes these situations turn on you and you’re left with a disappointing hype. Although necropsies can be a sensitive topic, the value of them proves astronomical, where necropsies can reveal hidden mysteries and often times unexpected findings. The vital role of a necropsy is to determine the cause of death, but it doesn’t stop there, it can also determine the pathogenesis (or the extent of the disease) and hopefully through modern technology we can learn more about these marine diseases. This information could lead to a better comprehension of why these beautiful animals strand and indirectly gain valuable knowledge of our oceans. While still being relatively new in the marine animal rehabilitation field and always learning new techniques, it isn’t premature to say I love every aspect of this job – from wrestling a seal, to give it treatments and food, up to the unfortunate aspect of dissecting the expired animal. It all comes with the territory of this job, sometimes you might have to put on a straight face even when you’re emotionally tied up with these fascinating creatures.