Workers at the Alaska Spine Institute are adept at operating their medical scanning machines. But one patient on Friday was, let's just say, a whale of a challenge for the imaging technicians there, who assisted biologists in gathering information about an unusual specimen.

This orca calf, 7 feet long and weighing about 250 pounds, is tiny by killer whale standards, but it is a huge opportunity for researchers from the National Marine Fisheries Service and SeaWorld.

Read more: Nuclear medicine helps researchers study pint-sized orca calf