ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Researchers in Alaska will soon have access to the only complete humpback whale skeleton in the state, but they will have to wait for rot to take its course.

University of Alaska Fairbanks researchers on Wednesday collected the final bones from a humpback whale that washed ashore at Anchorage’s Kincaid Park last July, Anchorage television station KTVA reported (

A helicopter was used to move the heavy bones this week, a far easier task than the 45 trips up a 200-foot cliff made by volunteers with the lighter bones earlier this year, said Aren Gunderson, the mammal curator at the university’s Museum of the North.

“We were eager to get back here and not have to carry anything up that hill,” Gunderson said.

The bones have been taken by truck to Fairbanks. Gunderson said the skeleton is complete, except for one small bone located near the throat that they couldn’t find.

If funding is available and everything goes as planned, Gunderson says the bones could be reassembled and displayed at the museum in 2018.

Information from: KTVA-TV,