Raising Public Awareness
International Naming Contests – Orca Calf “Tide” (SN199)
On the 14th of November 2016, we started our first international naming contest for the calf of female Vendetta (SN069, also known as Mousa). Vendetta/Mousa and her core group migrate between Iceland and Scotland – they can be spotted in West Iceland between November and March, and are then often recorded along the Scottish shoreline in May.
In 2015, we had spotted the group on the 22nd of December, and recorded a new-born calf on Mousa’s side. The calf could have been just a few weeks old, as it still displayed foetal folds on the side of the body, along with a strong coloration of the eye patches. We spotted the calf again in March 2016, and the group was then also seen in Scotland during the summertime.
When they returned back to Icelandic shores on the 9th of November 2016, we were delighted to see how much the calf had grown. To symbolically celebrate the calf’s “first birthday” (as it was now approximately one year old), and to avoid double-naming from both Scotland and Iceland, we hosted an international naming contest to give him or her a unisex name. We received over 150 creative name suggestions in many different languages, and our jury, which consisted of judges from the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Living Seas Project, Caithness Sea Watching, Shetland Wildlife Tours, and Orca Guardians Iceland, chose the four finalists from these suggestions, which were then given for public vote to decide for the winner via our Facebook page.
Vendetta (SN069) and Calf with Foetal Folds in December 2015
While ongoing, the contest was covered both in online and print issues of news agencies in the UK and Iceland, and even made it into the Icelandic national news. We received over 1,100 votes, with a clear result at the end: The name “Tide” had gotten the most votes and won the competition. It had been suggested by the “Sunnyside Ocean Defenders”, the 25 oldest pupils (age 10-11) at Sunnyside Primary School (Glasgow), who are campaigning for the protection of whales and dolphins, are involved in beach clean-ups, and are raising awareness on cetacean conservation issues as part of their curriculum. Their competition entry read as follows:
“We feel that the ‘Tide’ is something that touches us all. We like that ‘Tide’ links the two wonderful coasts of Iceland and Scotland. Like the ‘Tide’, this pod will visit both our shores, coming and going between us. No man can control the ‘Tide’, so we think this represents the calf’s independence and freedom. Also, this new life comes at hopefully a changing of the ‘Tide’ of opinion toward their kin in captivity.”
When the kids received the news that they had won the competition, their excitement resulted in an even more intense involvement with the topic. They coined the slogan “Swim straight, Tide. Swim free!” and hand-painted orca baubles about “Tide” to sell at the local fare around Christmas time to raise funds for BDMLR (British Divers Marine Life Rescue). Members of the class even recorded an official thank-you video, which we were allowed to display on our website. The class was awarded a free adoption package from our adoption program, and chose to adopt Floppy (SN090).
The Kids at Their Local Fare
The "Tide" Baubles
The "Sunnyside Ocean Defenders" Class of 2016/2017 after Winning the Naming Contest
Our first international naming contest was an incredible success and great awareness-raiser to inspire young and old to help protect orcas around the globe. Stay tuned for our next competition, starting in May 2017 – just in time for Orca Watch Week in Scotland!