Successful IWDG Post-mortem Workshop in Athlone

17th Dec 2010 The IWDG have just successfully ran a workshop on the post-mortem examination of stranded cetaceans, in collaboration with Veterinary Ireland.

The IWDG have long advocated that the post-mortem examination of stranded cetaceans should be carried out by veterinary pathologists to determine their cause of death and provide samples for life-history studies.

In 1991, the IWDG organized two demonstration post-mortems in counties Sligo and Cork with vet Thijs Kuiken to encourage the examination of stranded animals. The IWDG also feel that building experience and capacity in our veterinary profession is essential in case of an epizootic affecting cetaceans in Irish waters.

In June 2009 the IWDG ran a successful seminar at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology to re-invigorate this proposal. At the seminar, which was organized in collaboration with Galway County Council vet Rita Gately, who is also on the council of Veterinary Ireland, the IWDG committed to organize a follow-up workshop.

Over 20 vets from as far away as Counties Dublin, Limerick, Mayo and Donegal attended the workshop in Athlone, and representing regional vet labs, local authorities and private practices. Four live-stranded dolphins were provided by the IWDG Cetacean Stranding Scheme comprising three common and one striped dolphin which were stored frozen at GMIT since the summer.

Paul Jepson and Rob Deville showed the vets how to carry out a post-mortem examination from a research perspective and went through their post-mortem protocol, collecting a wide range of samples for histology, bacteriology and virology as well as collecting samples for genetics, pollution and life-history parameters. We hope we might now be in a position to recover selected stranded cetaceans to build experience for vets, as well as to start determining the causes of death of cetaceans in Irish waters.

The IWDG would like to thank Paul, Rob and Matt from the Institute of Zoology, London and Rod and Paul from Wales who all made the long trek to Athlone to deliver the workshop and John Lacey of the Regional Vet Lab, Athlone for facilitating us.

Dr Simon Berrow

IWDG Co-ordinator

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