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The body of this woman had been in the water for approximately one week. Notice the effects of submersion and postmortem changes in the tissue. Many times it is difficult to determine the sex of bodies that have been immersed in water. A body in water generally decomposes more slowly due to the colder temperatures as well as the lack of oxygen. However, a body disposed in a septic tank or in waters containing large amounts of chemical waste or bacteria will cause accelerated decomposition. Marine life, especially crabs and lobsters, are known to nibble on “floaters” (bodies in the water).

Fig.1 Bloated body of a woman after one week of submersion.

Bodies removed from water show excessive gas production and tissue discoloration, owing to explosive bacterial gas production. The gas causes the bodies to bloat excessively, which can cause an explosion or sudden rupture of the tense abdomen. The pressure may cause the eye globes and tongue to protrude.

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