Seafood Surgery

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In this hands-on activity, learners discover the similarities and differences between a vertebrate and invertebrate by dissecting a perch and a crawfish. This can be a very rich and time consuming (and messy) activity! Having a good set of diagrams or dissection guides is essential, as well as a sharp pair of scissors. [Activity is publicly available through a web crawler capture on Activity write-up only, images are unavailable.]

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Type:


Materials List (per group of students)

  • A perch (fresh or preserved)
  • A crayfish (fresh or preserved)
  • Computer to download or view diagrams from the Seafood Surgery Activity on Science Museum of Virginia web site: or refer to our online dissection:
  • Pointy, sharp scissors (smaller works better than larger ones)
  • Forceps or tweezers
  • A probe (a chopstick, or plastic fork or knife works)
  • Gloves (optional)
  • Newspaper to cover your working surface


  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Animals
      • Classification
    • Ecology
      • Biodiversity

Informal Categories

  • Animals


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • TryScience


  • All rights reserved, Science Museum of Virginia,