I always love meeting wild new killer whales, but sometimes it’s just as exciting to “meet” a dead one.

This is Kruzof, a 4 year old killer whale that was found deceased on a beach in Sitka Sound, Alaska. A necropsy revealed that he had harbor seal claws and bones in his stomach, indicating he was a transient. Several different organizations came together to work on the “Dem Bones” project to rearticulate Kruzof’s skeleton. He now hangs above the touch tanks in the Sitka Sound Science Center, a small research and education facility in southeast Alaska.

It is so easy to forget how large killer whales are, even when you work with them and see them all the time. This male was only four years old and he was absolutely massive. I was actually quite startled when I first walked into the room. They possess a powerful presence when they are alive, but even in death, their remains manage to remind us how small we are.