Orca calves are given names for the first time

The votes are in, and three young killer whales born into the Southern Resident community in 2010 and 2011 have officially been given names by The Whale Museum.

The newly named babies are: Ripple (K-44), Keta (L-117), and Jade (L-118).

Ripple (K-44)

Getting a name means an orca calf has survived through its first year, a period of high mortality among killer whales.

Naming involves nominations for likely monikers followed by voting, which this year generated about 5,000 votes.

Here’s some info behind the names and the animals themselves. Thanks go to Jeanne Hyde and The Whale Museum for the photos and comments about the youngsters:

Ripple: The definition of ripple means “to form or display little undulations or waves on the surface.” It is also the name of an island located in the San Juan Islands. Though a ripple and Ripple Island may both be small, young Ripple will hopefully grow to leave large ripples on the surface of the water.

Ripple, born in 2011, is the first offspring of Deadhead (K-27). He was first seen early in the morning, along the west side of San Juan Island, traveling in his mother’s slipstream. Ripple’s grandmother is Skagit (K-13). He has one cousin Comet (K-38), one aunt, Spock (K-20), and two uncles, Scoter (K-25) and Cali (K-34). Kitsap Sun, July 7, 2011.

Keta (L-117)

Keta: Keta is another word for chum salmon, a fish the Southern Residents feed on in the fall. One of Keta’s brothers is named Coho (L-108), another type of salmon the whales occasionally eat. Another brother is named Indigo (L-100).

Keta was born in December 2010 to Ino (L-54), who was born in 1977. Keta’s sex has not yet been determined. Kitsap Sun, Dec. 8, 2010.

Jade: Jade is a gem stone. Jade’s mother, Nugget (L-55), and one sister, Lapis (L-103), have gem stone names. Jade was first seen on May 29, 2011, as several L Pod family groups traveled south through Trincomali Channel, B.C. They had arrived from the north, which is not common for them. In addition to Lapis, Jade has two living siblings, Kasatka (L-82) Takoda (L-109). Jade’s sex is still unknown.

Jade (L-118)

These three orcas are now ready for “adoption,” a fund-raising promotion by The Whale Museum, as explained in a news release issued yesterday:

“The Orca Adoption Program was started in the spring of 1984. The rationale behind the creation of the adoption program was that if each orca were given a name and history, people would understand its unique personality and complex social relationships, and form a connection to the whales.

“At the time the Orca Adoption program was created, a congressional bill to ban live captures of killer whales was pending; it subsequently passed. Today, thousands of people know Granny (J-2), Oreo (J-22) and other Southern Resident orcas through the Orca Adoption Program.

“An Orca Adoption is a wonderful way to connect with these magnificent orcas. Symbolically adopting a whale in the Southern Resident Community also supports the mission of The Whale Museum which, since 1979, has been promoting stewardship of whales and the Salish Sea eco-system through education and research. In addition to providing exhibits and the Orca Adoption Program, the Museum provides programs including: the Soundwatch Boater Education, Marine Naturalist Training, San Juan Islands Marine Mammal Stranding Network and the Whale Hotline. For information, visit The Whale Museum website.”

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