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Attempts to rescue stranded or sick marine animals at times are sadly not successful. Our lab has taken interest in evaluating levels of metals in the brain of marine mammals. Special histological stains can be used to localize metal compounds in the brain in an attempt to link their levels to behavioral consequences.
Miss Colleen Sheh, BS and Mr. Paul Maechler, BA sectioned the brain on Tuesday, November 16th while the rest of our research staff and many visitors of our exhibitor's booth at the Society for Neuroscience Meeting watched them on the web.
Some information on the California sea Lion (from Wikipedia):
The California Sea Lion (Zalophus californianus) is a coastal sea lion of western North America. Their numbers are abundant (188,000 U.S. stock 1995 est.), and the population continues to expand at a rate of approximately 5.0% annually. They are quite intelligent, can adapt to man-made environments, and even adult males can be easily trained. Because of this, California sea lions are commonly found in public display in zoos and marine parks, used for entertainment in circuses, and trained by the US Navy for certain military operations. This is the classic circus "seal", despite that it is not a true seal.
Main Image: A California Sea Lion. Photo courtesy of Brian Switek
Press Play to see video of the cutting process of the brain. The camera is attached to the top of the microtome, next to the camera that is used to take the blockface images. (Microsoft LifeCam Cinema)