• Sperm whale, just under the surface

  • Rearticulated sperm whale skeleton

  • Rearticulated Sperm Whale exhibit at the Maritime Museum

  • They have a lot more to teach us.

    We've learned a lot with your help. But there's still so much we need to know to protect our wild dolphin neighbors.

    Give to dolphin research at the Cape Lookout Studies Program.

  • Sea Turtel sick and injured from fishing line

    You can stop this.

    Protecting marine wildlife is within your reach.

    When you give to put monofilament recycling bins within reach of conscientious boaters and anglers.

  • Harbor seal in need

    Save lives, reduce suffering, learn more.

    It's a win, win, win – when you support our Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

    Please give generously to the Cape Lookout Studies Program.

  • Cetacean Studies

    Inspire curiosity.

    What does it take to get students interested in science and conservation? Your help.

    Please give generously to support Cetacean Studies and the Bonehenge rearticulation project.

Whale skeleton rearticulation

Sperm whale skeleton project

From time to time, marine mammals that have died in the ocean wash up on our beaches relatively intact. While we never celebrate these occurrences, we also recognize that one of the best ways to honor these beautiful creatures is to learn all we can from them. One way to do that is to preserve the whale bones and rearticulate the whale skeleton for research and education.

Artistic representation of the sperm whale for bonehenge

Project #1: 10.2 meter (33.5′) Sperm Whale skeleton – rearticulated and placed on exhibit at the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort, NC.

The whale was found dead near Cape Lookout on January 30, 2004 and we quickly decided that it would be a waste if we didn’t try to learn as much as we could from this beautiful creature.

whale skeleton, whale bones

The bones of “Pitfall”, a 37’ female humpback whale that was struck by a ship.

And we did learn from the rearticulation process. A lot. Lessons that will help us on our next project and help others who undertake similar projects. Currently, the bones of an 11.3 meter (37′) humpback whale are resting in the Cape Lookout Studies Program offices. But before we consider new projects and new facilities, we invite you to visit the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort, NC to view the results of our first project. Just be sure to look up. There’s a pretty big sperm whale skeleton (now named Echo) up there that you wouldn’t want to miss!

Whale bones at Bonehenge

For more information on the sperm whale rearticulation project, visit the volunteer created bonehenge website. It was a vital tool in helping us fund the project and report our progress. Bonehenge was the name lovingly given to the sperm whale rearticulation project and the temporary facility we used to prepare and assemble the whale bones of the skeleton.

Other whale skeleton rearticulation projects:

Gervais’ beaked whale

Risso’s Dolphin

Bottlenose dolphin “Josie”

Dwarf sperm whale

Browse Keith Rittmaster’s interactive timeline below to follow the sperm whale’s journey from ocean to exhibit.

Timeline