Fish dissection online

Virtual Fish Dissection: Island Kelpfish (Alloclinus holderi) Photo credit: MRI and 3D by UCSD Keck Center for fMRI; CT data from Digimorph at the University of Texas at AustinCourtesy UCSD Keck Center for fMRI; CT data from Digimorph at the University of Texas at Austin

Students, scientists, or anyone with an internet connection will be able to digitally probe and dissect different kinds of fishes from anywhere in the world using their desktop computer. Researchers at the University of California , San Diego have applied magnetic resonance imaging technology, or MRI, to create a high resolution, 3-D online catalog of fishes from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography's Marine Vertebrate Collection. Scripps' Marine Vertebrate, or "Fish," Collection, is among the largest and most comprehensive collections of its kind, containing 90 percent of all known families of fishes. With more than 2 million specimens, the collection is used by researchers around the world to investigate the systematics, biodiversity, physiology, ecology and conservation of fishes. Through the Digital Fish Library project, coordinators will image at least one of every 482 fish families in the world.

How can this collection be used?

Hastings :With more than 2 million specimens, the collection is used by researchers around the world to investigate the systematics, biodiversity, physiology, ecology and conservation of fishes. The collection includes approximately six thousand species of fishes. One of the research goals of the Scripps Fish Collection is to study the evolution of fishes and we interpret the evolution and ecology to some extent of fishes based on their internal anatomy. Describing internal anatomy of fishes is relatively difficult. It requires tedious dissection of whole specimens, but this new technology will now allow us to go in and actually in a very much more rigorous way examine the internal anatomy of specimens without having to do these very tedious dissections.

How are the fish digitized?

Fish sections via MRI: Galapagos Shark (Carcharhinus galapagensis) Photo credit: UCSD Keck Center for fMRI

The fish are scanned with a Magnetic Resonance Imager (MRI). A simplified explaination is that very strong magnetic force lines up many of the water molecules in the fish tissues. Various radio frequences can then be used to interpret how these spinning particles wobble on thier axies, and through analysis, be used to differentiate tissue types and locations. The scans, when interpreted mathematically, result in high resolution, three dimensional images which enable visualizaton of all the various internal organs and tissues. Different tissue types can be color coded enabling students to easily compare similar tisue structures within different fish. The scans are being done at the University of California at San Diego's (UCSD) Keck Center for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI).

Where can I go on the internet to dissect or learn more about fish?

Digital Fish Library - Homepage
Digital Fish Library - software description
Digital Fish Library - Browse collection
Digital Fish Library - links to more information
Video - Dr. Hastings about Scripps fish collection (Quick Time, 6.2Mb)
Video - Dr. Frank on MRI technology (Quicktime, 9 Mb)
Video - Dr. Peach on Educational goals of project (QuickTime,5.6Mb)
Source article from Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Your rating: None Average: 2.4 (9 votes)

Your rating: None Average: 2.4 (9 votes)

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i like virtual dissections

posted on Fri, 05/12/2006 - 4:16pm
bryan kennedy's picture

Have you participated in one? I wonder if anyone has any experience using these virtual dissections and can offer some comparison to the real thing?

I personally understand the need for these simulations but feel that in many cases nothing can substitute for the real thing. I took a anatomy class in high school which I really loved. At the end of the course we got to assist with some real human dissections at a local chiropractic college. I was amazed at how little I knew. I had spent all year virtually learning about the human body through diagrams and animations but it was never so real as looking at the physical tissue.

What do you think?

posted on Fri, 05/12/2006 - 4:21pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

man you type way to long messages i cant even be bothered reading it lol. in fact i don't think that anyone in the world would read that unless it was eye catching and they were total nerds no affence taken i hope. koolies lol!!

posted on Thu, 11/20/2008 - 2:21am
john e smith's picture
john e smith says:

mr. kennedy:
i have taught for thirty five years... i can tell you without rteservation that actual dissection is the best.... but, with the political climate, students who really do not want to learn and their parents too.... my word of advice is to survive teach what you can... fighting the system only gets you in trouble... i know i fought them for many years and i paid the price for wanting to teach excellence not just quantity... this country is going that way, and i can prove that witth one statement... what are we all teaching now.... we teach to some state test to make the bosses look good.... true or not--- i hope not for you..

posted on Wed, 03/04/2009 - 12:36pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Could not have said it better.

posted on Tue, 10/19/2010 - 1:09pm
Texas Teacher's picture
Texas Teacher says:

Right john e smith. That is exactly what has happened. The only place good learning by students is going on is in GT honors or AP pre_AP classes. Regular classes teach to a test and you better make the bosses look good. Ive only been at it 18 years but that is true. It is sad. If you enjoy science, teach upper level students or junior college.

posted on Thu, 01/19/2012 - 11:07am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

dissecting frogs is gross and im not being girly they smell really stong of the chemical they put them in and they say to wear eye goggles or safty glasses for a reason ick i prefer online disecting... ive doen texas earth worm frog and a perch in biology

posted on Thu, 04/01/2010 - 9:14am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i like virtual dissections when you actually get to dissect something virtually!!!

posted on Fri, 03/23/2007 - 12:13pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

How do you dissect a fish online??

posted on Thu, 11/20/2008 - 2:22am
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

The finished website is slated for completion in Spring of 2009.

posted on Thu, 11/20/2008 - 10:09am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

yeah thay are way better than real ones.

posted on Thu, 04/26/2007 - 6:25pm
KaY 2 the lee.'s picture
KaY 2 the lee. says:

i do to, they bascially are amazing ;]

posted on Mon, 05/07/2007 - 4:24pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

how do you dissect sharks online????????????

posted on Wed, 05/09/2007 - 5:24pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

wow, so do i

posted on Thu, 10/27/2011 - 10:14am
stephanie's picture
stephanie says:

i had to do a virtual dissection for my biology, and i definitly prefer the real thing to them, but they do help alot in preparation for the actual thing so then you can see what it's supposed to look like, and you have less of a chance of screwing up when it is up to you to do the whole thing without the help of an instructor, as i had to when we did the fetal pig "lab."

posted on Sat, 05/13/2006 - 3:12pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

This does not show or display how to dissect a fish

posted on Tue, 05/16/2006 - 10:48pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Not yet.

The software is only just now being developed. (Here's a summary of how it works.)

According to the source article, the Digital Fish Project is funded for the next five years. It could be a while before the general public is able to virtually dissect fish.

posted on Wed, 05/17/2006 - 8:28am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

dissection is WRONG! why cut open an animal, would you like to be killed so you could be used in a biology class? didn't think so!

posted on Tue, 11/07/2006 - 10:44am
Liza's picture
Liza says:


In some ways, there is no substitute for dissection. Certainly many of us can get by understanding anatomy from digital visualizations or models. And very experienced anatomists can probably learn a lot from this fish library. But what about doctors and surgeons? I certainly wouldn't want to be operated on by a doctor who had learned all of his/her anatomy and procedures through digital representations or models!

The cool thing about the virtual fish dissection is that it digitizes the anatomy of both common and rare species, so that anyone who's interested can learn about the structures of the fishes WITHOUT having to kill and dissect one. That's valuable, isn't it?

And I wouldn't mind being a body donor. I'm already listed as an organ donor, but if doctors or scientists could use my body for education or research, I'm all for that, too.

posted on Tue, 11/07/2006 - 11:39am
Victoria's picture
Victoria says:

I think dissection is cool how else are we supposed to learn. and some people want to be vets and scientists. how else are they supposed to improve their career. And besides they weren't killed they died naturaly or were put to sleep to put them out of pain.

posted on Tue, 11/07/2006 - 12:50pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

yeah but if you died and noone knew why they would cut you open to find out what was wrong so why are animals any different?? this is mostly so people can learn so get real and deal

posted on Fri, 02/09/2007 - 10:39pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

they are used to help people understand the parts of people to humans because if they used real humans i don't think that would be so cool-making. i think you are so missing-making.

posted on Thu, 12/13/2007 - 8:31pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

and i suppose that you do not want your surgeon to not have any practice before your operation... i ask that you not agree with me only to think about it

posted on Sun, 01/20/2008 - 3:13pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

dissection is not wrong, its a way to study the body, without it we would not know what the human body consisted of, and how similiar such mammals are. Such classification was discovered through dissection. How would we have cured some diseases, how would medicine have become. Dissection helps us understand how the body functions works, through observation. It may seem immoral, but thats science, sometimes. We eat animals, is that wrong? The animals are already dead, there's really no use for them, except for pushing up daisies. So why not! I assume if it was an endangered species than it would be bad, i assume. But there are such things as human dissection, people actually donate thier body for science, so some people don't think its bad. I would understand why you would think dissection is bad, but it really isn't if you look at it in a different perspective. It has its pros and cons, just depends on how you look at it. Morally or scientifically! But i think scientifically has more to offer. Its just my opinion.

posted on Sat, 02/02/2008 - 1:26am
scooter's picture
scooter says:

well duh all of the animals are dead so let them rest in peace

posted on Thu, 09/04/2008 - 1:45pm
john smith's picture
john smith says:

to he or her who said it is wrong..... i bet that you want your next sugergy to be done by a doctor with little or no experience....oh the unleaned and young so much for them to learn

posted on Wed, 03/04/2009 - 12:40pm
Anonymous 2's picture
Anonymous 2 says:

i agree whenever humans discover something they want to destroy it instead of letting it be a natural wonder. keep it up and we wont have ANYTHING to wonder about.

posted on Fri, 02/12/2010 - 3:38pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

er hello need to do the disection 4 work!!!
this site is sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo not helpful!!!

posted on Tue, 11/21/2006 - 6:22pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Yeah...umm...I need a REAL virtual dissection...not just some website that misleads me...

posted on Tue, 12/05/2006 - 5:36pm
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

"REAL virtual" huh. Sounds like an oxymoron to me (look it up). Check out this link to put together or take apart a virtual frog.

posted on Thu, 12/07/2006 - 8:54am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Fish dissecton is crule and morbid!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! All who support it are sick!!!!!!!!!! The fish may be dead but they were alive once and were killed just to be cut up mercylessly by kids!!!!! Even a vet learns nothing usefull from this descusting experiment as you annot oparate or treat a fish underwater and it will die if you bring it on land!!!!!! I think disection should be banned completely from schools!! In colledges for vets and fish experts and so on it canbe justbabot justifyed!!!!!!!!! But otherwise FISH DISSECTION IS SICK SICK SICK SICK SICK SICK SICK SICK SICK SICK SICK SICK SICK SICK SICK!

posted on Sat, 01/06/2007 - 7:43am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

well, the important thing is that your open minded. I personally came here because i need to dissect a fish for school to see if its death had anything to do with the environment and the poluted water it lived in (lake michigan.) by dissecting this fish and identifying if polution played a part in its death, i will be able to tell if the fish (which are eaten by us) could be poluting us. but if you want to continue being ignorant and eat fish that could be poluted with deadly substances, be my guest but i dont want to risk it.

posted on Fri, 01/19/2007 - 4:54pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I agree completely with you.

posted on Thu, 02/22/2007 - 1:49pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Fish are not always bred to be dissected, many research industries use fish that are already dead for use in the culinary industry, for example when my sixth form students dissect fish they get them from the local fishmongers or supermarket, the moralities of the issue are minimal are they are already dead, we dont kill them just to dissect them.

posted on Sun, 02/24/2008 - 7:02am
Cameron Jacobs's picture
Cameron Jacobs says:

Ok this is the deal, I went to this other website and it let me disect a frog on my own, you know on the computor still though. I think your website should let people do that on the computor. They should be able to pick up the pins with there mouse and cut it open with there mouth also. Then you should quiz them on the different parts of the animal. You should have animals like pigs fish turtle cow eyes and maybe even humas. If you do this I think that more people will visit your website because it will be interesting informative and it will allow students to study for tests and do more educational things on the internet, instead of myspace and stuff. I am a student and the other websit that i went to with the disection helped alot. I got an A on my test and my parents were really proud because I usualy have a D average. Please concider my suggestions, I think they will help you and your online visitors alot. Thank you

Cameron Jacobs

posted on Fri, 02/09/2007 - 5:31pm
annonymis's picture
annonymis says:

dissection is wrong but cool i think they should only dissect frogs that are already dead and not live ones found and killed thats murder of corse its wrong but if you do a virtual dissection on it is not as nasty and its fun! it just so happens i love this website so much i support that instead of real frogs being dissected if your one of those people try virualy dissecting one instead try something new.

posted on Fri, 02/09/2007 - 10:35pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I agree that would be fun

posted on Sat, 02/10/2007 - 4:57pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

ummm...maybe you should just stick to going to that website then

posted on Sat, 02/10/2007 - 5:54pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

that right , spend more time to deveplope the website

posted on Sat, 02/10/2007 - 7:22pm
Justin's picture
Justin says:


I like the idea of the fish,shark,frog and any other animal you can disect.

posted on Sun, 03/04/2007 - 12:28pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

dude this has nothing to do with dissections. you need to put it on here! later home skillin bisciut!!!!!!

posted on Sun, 03/11/2007 - 11:07am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I expected to see a real virtual dissection step by step[

posted on Wed, 04/11/2007 - 12:28pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

wheres a good websjite for dissection of a shark

posted on Mon, 04/23/2007 - 10:24am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

yeah virtual dissections are way better!!

posted on Thu, 04/26/2007 - 6:24pm
TheCoolster's picture
TheCoolster says:

I really like the information about fish, it is cool. You should add some online demos!! seriously!!!

posted on Sat, 04/28/2007 - 4:22pm
dude-man's picture
dude-man says:

I want to do the dissection. Like in ""

posted on Thu, 05/10/2007 - 9:55am
Rylee's picture
Rylee says:

i dont aprove of isecting frogs because it is cruel
killing and tortturing animaks should be against the law.
im a vegiterian and i dont see wht peope shoudnt be..

posted on Tue, 06/05/2007 - 10:40am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

were do u go on this website to dissect

posted on Sat, 10/13/2007 - 2:12pm
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

Click on this to dissect a virtual frog (uncheck the boxes for skin, etc.)

posted on Sun, 10/14/2007 - 3:23pm
m.e.'s picture
m.e. says:

tis is cool

posted on Mon, 03/03/2008 - 4:37pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:


posted on Tue, 03/04/2008 - 3:09pm
bryan kennedy's picture

Check out the main website that Art links to in the original article. Maybe you want to start off with a great white shark?

posted on Tue, 03/04/2008 - 5:18pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

it was the grossest thing i have ever done

posted on Thu, 04/24/2008 - 8:02am
Ashley Miracle's picture
Ashley Miracle says:

I mean I like virtual dissections an all, because you don't have to worry about cleaning up the mess... HOW EVER this is like YAWN!!!!!!!!!!!!! I mean I like do this for a living only like with humans, (autopsies) but like this is pathedic tell me when you have something worth seeing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

posted on Wed, 04/30/2008 - 8:35am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

it is wrong to dissect something unless it is too find out about the body system

posted on Wed, 05/21/2008 - 10:24am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

this is grosssss

posted on Tue, 06/03/2008 - 6:20am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

awesome!!! This stuff is cool!

posted on Wed, 11/19/2008 - 3:28pm
dwade's picture
dwade says:

I use virtual dissections to help prepare students for "real" dissections. I provide sites, etc... in order for them to spend some time at home becoming more familiar with a given species' anatomy. I have found this to decrease the amount of errors during lab and have seen an improvment in lab test scores.

posted on Tue, 04/28/2009 - 7:23am
Mary's picture
Mary says:

Yeah virtual dissection is cool..............

posted on Wed, 09/22/2010 - 1:53pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

dissecting is awesome i don't see how you other people say it is gross, you get to see thing that you never know of.

posted on Fri, 12/03/2010 - 12:11pm
Ramesh Kumar's picture
Ramesh Kumar says:

Dissection is an important practical activity because we can understand abot the internal organs by doing it.As teacher I can say these words because in my experineces,students are very much motivated by these type of practicals.After killing the animals cw are using for eating.Why donot we use for our teaching?Please think.

posted on Thu, 03/24/2011 - 12:35am

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