IT WAS ONLY THE FOURTH TIME a Baird’s beaked whale was stranded in Washington. The whale was found near Westport in May 2015. She had recently given birth, and died from an infection in her pelvis. Museum staff and volunteers rushed to the coast to bury the whale, where it decomposed underground. Two years later they returned, braving the slime and the smell to unearth and clean the bones, and transport them to the Burke. For most, it would be an unenviable, perhaps even unthinkable task. For them, it was a labor of love. Baird’s beaked whales swim far offshore in deep water and avoid ships. Because they are so rarely seen, much about the biology of Baird’s beaked whales is essentially unknown. Countries across the North Pacific hunted them through the mid-20th century, and they are still hunted commercially in Japan. The International Union for Conservation of Nature considers the species data-deficient: there is not enough information available to determine their conservation status. The specimen at the Burke will be one of only ten in museum collections in the U.S. It will be a critical contribution to research. And when the skeleton hangs in the grand lobby of the New Burke, it will be invaluable to us all: a reminder of the way nature is grand and fragile at the same time. A reminder of what’s at risk. A reminder of what’s worth saving. Dennis Wise/University of Washington