Re: NANFA-- bleak news for fish lovers

Bonnie Ullmann (
Thu, 2 Dec 1999 15:12:01 -0800

>Dave Neely wrote:
>> The collections manager here (Bernie Kuhajda) has a GREAT presentation that
>> he does for school groups. It consists almost entirely of preserved material
>> that gets dried off and passed around.

Hi folks, I'm hoping that if the critters were preserved in formalin
or paraformaldehyde that they are not being passed around without gloves
for all. I know the old anatomists loved to practically bathe in
formaldehyde and would argue with me about how it never hurt them. We have
learned to be quite a bit more cautious and we always use the stuff in the
fume hood and carefully send any waste to our Environmental Health and
Safety Department which sends it off in sealed containers so it doesn't end
up in the river. I have my workstudy students use masks when working with
or making up the solutions. I'm hoping that maybe ethanol is the
presevative in this case? Still shouldn't go down the drain in any
quantity, according to EHS Dept here.
I have an easy protocol for differential staining of fish bone with
Alizarin red and fish cartilage with Alcian blue and the critters ( I'm
interested in embryos and larvae) end up in glycerol. They are very pretty,
kids can see differences in species (and in the case of 3-spine
sticklebacks, much variation within species depending on the location of
the colony) and they are not full of really nasty chemicals. We use
dermestid beetles to get at nice dried skeletons for show and tell, too
(and the beetles themselves are fun for science geeks, if the kids don't
later bring up what they saw at the family dinner).
All this means is you can look on the bright side if you unfortunately lose
some of your opportunity to check out their fascinating bone and
cartilage development!


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