Orca Skeleton Completed and on Display
Contact: Tom VandenBerg, 907-697-2619
The Whale is Up!
After nine years of anticipation, Glacier Bay's killer whale calf has finally found a permanent home in the Gustavus Community Library. When a juvenine killer whale was discovered dead in Glacier Bay in August 2005, the entire skeleton was collected for future educational display. After nine years, the dreams of many were finally realized when the skeleton was hoisted to the ceiling on February 14, 2014.
The park was fortunate to host well-known articulation specialist, Lee Post, from Homer, Alaska, who has articulated over two dozen skeletons. He spent most of his time in the Gustavus School woodshop, welcoming students, community members and volunteers to participate in all aspects of the project. Lee estimates this to be only one of eight complete killer whale skeletons on public display in the United States. While working on the skeleton, he frequently acknowledged the pristine condition of every bone - a testament to the careful cleaning and handling by park staff and community volunteers.
After two weeks of hard work, the 12 ft., 75 pound skeleton was carried by hand from the woodshop to the library and welcomed by a fanfare of song and dance.
The park hosted an Open House on February 25th to celebrate the culmination of this nine-year project. The Glacier Bay interpretive division facilitated an evening of orca-themed events and presentations, and welcomed honored guests from the Hoonah Indian Association to perform a Tlingit blessing of the whale. A special name Keet'k' meaning "little killer whale" was given to commemorate the return of her Spirit.
This beautiful display would not be possible without the support and hard work of many. Partners include Alaska Geographic, Gustavus School, Gustavus Community Library, and over sixty Gustavus community volunteers and friends. We're very proud of our rare killer whale calf. It seems very fitting that Keet'k' found her home in our local library, surrounded by a myriad of books that tell stories. She will tell her own special story for future generations, connecting community and visitors to the magic of Glacier Bay for years to come.
To see this rare and unique specimen, be sure to stop by the Gustavus Community Library. You can view the whale six days a week, Monday through Saturday. Please call 907-697-2350 for daily hours of operation.
To learn more about Glacier Bay's orca articulation project please visit:
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Did You Know?
The largest member of the deer family is a recent newcomer to Glacier Bay. The first moose was sighted here in 1960. They are frequently seen amid thick stands of willows and other tasty vegetation.