At the end of the year, a flurry of activity in the freezer room at the Tufts Wildlife Clinic led to a very satisfying delivery. Facilitated by Julie Ellis and Mark Pokras at Tufts, and Paul Sweet, Ornithology Collections Manager at the American Museum of Natural History, and executed by veterinary student Meghan Hartwick, a huge trove of frozen seabird tissue samples made their way to New York City.
While SEANET has shifted away from seabird necropsies in order to focus our limited resources on beach surveys, we still had years’ worth of liver, kidney, brain and other samples in long term frozen storage. This kind of tissue archive is a sort of time capsule; as new diseases are discovered, frozen tissues can be tested to see how far back the disease may actually have been present. As more sensitive diagnostics become available, the archived tissues can be retested to refine our knowledge. Genetics studies, parasite studies, toxicology studies can all make great use of samples like these. We at SEANET have not been able to perform such testing ourselves, and had long hoped to find a better home for these little glass jars. Thanks to the Tufts team, and the AMNH we finally have. Now, the tissues will be safe, secure, and accessible to any researcher who needs them.
Thanks Mark, Julie, and Meghan for a job well done!