Archive for March, 2013

L-pod killer whale (L-112/Sooke/Victoria) dissection videos

Today (3/7/2013) marks the anniversary of the cranial dissection of L-112, a 3-year-old southern resident killer whale that was found dead at Long Beach on February 11, 2012.  More than a year after her death, we are still gathering information about her case and many questions remain unanswered.  Acoustic recordings made on the outer coast that winter are undergoing or await analysis and publication, final details from the initial and cranial necropsies have not been fully reported, and CT scans and dissection of the middle/inner ear bones are pending.  There is not yet scientific consensus regarding key questions, including “What was the cause of her trauma?” and “Approximately how long was she dead before being discovered on the beach?”

In pursuit of answers and as a contribution to gathering all relevant data, today we present the edited footage from the cranial dissection of L-112/Victoria/Sooke and offer the raw footage to interested parties.  Below is a 1-hour-long (1:09:03) distillation of almost 5 hours of raw footage from two Flip HD cameras.  This is a synopsis of the dissection, including all audible commentary regarding trauma observations made by members of the necropsy team.

Killer whale L-112 cranial dissection from Beam Reach on Vimeo.

The synopsis is mostly chronological, but some effort has been made to group footage anatomically, with an emphasis on sound production and reception. There are titled sections on the following topics:

  • 0:00:16 Disclaimer and introduction
  • 0:05:57 Sampling blubber and skin (for Ted Cranford)
  • 0:07:29 Removal of skin and blubber
  • 0:13:30 Examination of the blow hole
  • 0:14:24 Dissection of the melon
  • 0:16:56 Phonic lips (with insights from Jason Wood)
  • 0:22:49 Hemorrhage observations
  • 0:24:40 Melon and eyes
  • 0:29:54 Sub-mandibular dissection
  • 0:32:54 End of day 1
  • 0:33:16 Removal of eyes
  • 0:34:18 Melon and phonic lips
  • 0:36:55 Tongue, mandible, and pharangeal area
  • 0:45:01 Phonic lips dissection (including esophageal hemorrhage)
  • 0:49:17 Dissection of auditory bullae (bony structures containing middle and inner ear)
  • 0:57:49 Upper jaw teeth (12 on each side!)
  • 1:01:04 Narration: transition from bullae to brain
  • 1:01:55 Discussion of inner ears
  • 1:04:35 Removal of the brain

We have not included the archived footage from live-streaming of the necropsy, nor have we incorporated the many still photographs that were taken by Beam Reach staff, Sandy Buckley the necropsy team photographer, or others who documented the dissection. We welcome further efforts to assimilate all available information and in that spirit have included the above video and all raw footage collected by Beam Reach in our web-site-wide creative commons license (non-commercial attributed derivative works are permitted).

Later this spring in partnership with zoologist Dr. Kevin Flick of Poke the Dead Thing we plan to release a shorter (~20 minute) version of this footage for interested 6-12th-grade educators and marine naturalists. Key anatomical footage will be supplemented with diagrams, animations, and descriptions of bioacoustic functionality from the recent primary literature. In the interim, students and educators may enjoy studying the DOSITS overview of cetaceans’ fully aquatic ear and marine mammal sound production.

Credits and related links: