Amusing Monday: Spell-checking offers new names for sea creatures

Harbor seals might be called “pooch vitamin” and gray whales “scratchiest robot” — or at least those are a couple of the wacky names I derived with the help of spell-checking software.

“Pooch vitamin” for harbor seal
Photo: Meegan Reid, Kitsap Sun

Scientific names don’t normally give me much of a problem — primarily because I don’t use them all that much. If I’m writing an article about an animal or plant, I sometimes include the scientific name for the sake of precision, since some species are called by different things in other parts of the world.

I don’t know how to pronounce most scientific names, and I almost always need to double-check the spellings. As Sloan Tomlinson of Entomology Uncensored points out, auto-correct is no friend of scientists stuck with using proper taxonomic names.

Generally, spell-checking software is worthless in this regard, because it rarely recognizes a scientific name. So, just for fun, I reached into the alternative spellings being offered for the genus and species of a variety of marine mammals common to the Northwest. Here’s what I came up with:

Seals and sea lions

Pooch vitamin for HARBOR SEAL, Phoca vitulina

Galoshes Californian for CALIFORNIA SEA LION, Zalophus californianus

Mourning angularities for NORTHERN ELEPHANT SEAL, Mirounga angustirostris

Architectural townswomen for GUADALUPE FUR SEAL, Arctocephalus townsendi

Calculations urchins for NORTHERN FUR SEAL, Callorhinus ursinus

Porpoises and dolphins

Poached pooches for HARBOR PORPOISE, Phocoena phocoena

Phosphoresce dahlia for DALL’S PORPOISE Phocoenoides dalli

Lecherousness obliviousness for PACIFIC WHITE-SIDED DOLPHIN, Lagenorhynchus obliquidens

Grammar gripers for RISSO’S DOLPHIN, Grampus griseus

Tourists truncated for COMMON BOTTLENOSE DOLPHIN, Tursiops truncates

Delirious Delhi for SHORT-BEAKED COMMON DOLPHIN, Delphinus delphis

Delirious capeskin for LONG-BEAKED COMMON DOLPHIN, Delphinus capensis


Scratchiest robots for GRAY WHALE, Eschrichtius robustus

“Scratchiest robots” for gray whale
Photo: NOAA Fisheries

Megastar nonviable for HUMPBACK WHALE, Megaptera novaeangliae

Origins organ for KILLER WHALE, Orcinus orca*

Glaciological macroeconomics for SHORT-FINNED PILOT WHALE, Globicephala macrorhynchus

Brigadiers barbarian for BAIRD’S BEAKED WHALE, Berardius bairdii

Zippiest captivators for CUVIER’S BEAKED WHALE, Ziphius cavirostris

Pester macrophages for SPERM WHALE, Physeter macrocephalus

Baltimorean muscles for BLUE WHALE, Balaenoptera musculus

Baltimorean astronauts for MINKE WHALE, Balaenoptera acutorostrata

Baltimorean physique for FIN WHALE, Balaenoptera physalus

*NOTE: Orca is actually recognized in the spell-check dictionary

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