Humpback Whale

Researchers work to bring humpback whale skeleton back to museum

Thanks to the efforts of scientists from the University of Alaska Museum of the North, the skeleton from a humpback whale that washed up near Anchorage has been airlifted off the beach and transported to the museum. Next, museum staff will prepare the bones and tissues and add them to the museum's extensive marine mammal collection, the largest in North America. Until now, the museum did not have a complete humpback whale skeleton.

Mammal Curator Link Olson said it took a herculean effort on the part of many individuals and organizations to make this happen. "Most marine mammal strandings occur far from the road network, so this is unusual," he said. "Add to that the fact that it's a humpback whale, which is rare for Cook Inlet. That so many stakeholders are willing and able to drop everything and work together to salvage this specimen for research is a testament to our shared mission of science-based stewardship."

The location also aided in the documentation of the project. The story flooded airwaves and newspaper columns across the state when reporters were able to visit the site.

PHOTO ABOVE: The museum partnered with several organizations to salvage the humpback whale skeleton that washed ashore at Kincaid Park in Anchorage over the summer. Members of the musuem's mammal collection, including manager Aren Gunderson, worked to bring the complete skeleton to the museumt. Photo by Kevin May


In the Media

UA Museum hopes to display giant whale skeleton after bacteria clean up bones (Alaska Dispatch News; Oct. 2016)

Whale Skeleton Takes Flight in Anchorage (Alaska's Energy Desk; Oct. 13, 2016)

Museum Undertakes Whale of a Project (KUAC; Oct. 13, 2016)

Whale bones airlifted from beach at Kincaid Park (KTVA; Oct. 12, 2016)

3,000 pounds of whale bones airlifted for unique salvage project (KTUU; Oct. 12, 2016)