James Bond the whale...licensed to krill

Feature story - 7 November, 2007
Even among people who agree that whales should not be killed needlessly in the name of research, opinions diverge wildly when it comes to naming them. So far we have received over 8,000 entries to name some of the whales that were tagged for the Great Whale Trail. Here are just a few of the suggested names ranging from heartfelt dedications, celebrities to the just plain strange.

A Humpback whale swims past the Cook Island whale research boat, enjoying the warm water and the protected reefs of Rarotonga (Cook Islands).

One of the amazing features of the name-a-whale competition is the number of countries we have received entries from, 142 so far. With so many different people from all over the world submitting names, we have some great names.


The competition is now closed having received over 10,000 entries.  You will have a chance to vote for the best whale names starting 19th November.

Whales of the world

From all over the world we have names like Youko, which is Japanese for 'ocean child', Rahu in Estonian means 'peace' whilst the name 'Shanti' is another word meaning 'peace', this time in Hindi.

Tauelsiz means 'independent' in Kazakh, Befri means 'free' in Norwegian and Kekoa is Hawaiian for 'the brave one'. Suyana means 'hope' in the quechua language in landlocked Bolivia whilst Rangwani in the Shona language (used in parts of Southern Africa) means 'a huge clumsy fellow' and the Chinese have a great possible whale name in Jing Ling meaning 'spirit of the whale'.

A couple of possible names that are a bit harder to pronounce are shomoodrer-rajputro which means 'prince of the ocean' in Bangla (from Bangladesh) and Fa'amoemoe meaning 'hope' in the language of Samoa where some of the tagged whales are swimming past on their annual migration.


A lot of people would like to name a whale as a dedication to someone special or just after a celebrity.

A couple of great former Greenpeace activists, founding member Bob Hunter and photographer Fernando Pereira (who was killed when the Rainbow Warrior was bombed by French agents) were suggested as possible whale names.

John Lennon, Bob Dylan, John Butler, Elvis, Mozart, Beethoven and Pavarotti were just some of the names of musical celebrities that have been entered.

Not to be outdone, film and television characters generated many fine possible whale names like Smithers from the Simpson's, Kermit the frog from the Muppets, James Bond, Yoda and Darth Vadar from Star Wars, Frodo, Gandalf and Aragorn from Lord of the Rings whilst Harry, Hermione, Hagrid and Dumbledor from Harry Potter all seemed to cast their spell on some of our entrants.

Other famous people to have their names entered are Steve Irwin, Einstein, Marco Polo, Leonardo da Vinci, Crazy Horse, Alexander the Great, Jacque Cousteau and the ethicist/animal liberation activist, Peter Singer.

Dedications to loved ones included people's sons like Tiago, Hugo (aged 8), Alvar (who we're told swims like a whale in the bathtub), Engin, Kai and Marcos.

Daughters too featured in many entries with Claudia, Natasha, Kokoro, Olivia, Estrella (born the same day her father entered her name in the competition!), Nea, Emilie and Pauline who is due to be born on the 30th November this year.


Religion featured prominently in the possible names with some ancient gods being particularly popular.

Zeus, Apollo, Hermes, Poseidon , Achilles, Artemis, Ajax and Aphrodite all appearing for the Greek gods but not to be outdone, the Nordic gods Thor and Freyja made an appearance, as did Ra the Egyptian sun god, Quetzalcoatl the Aztec god-king, Sedna the Inuit goddess of marine mammals and the Welsh gods Dagda and goddesses Morgana and Riannon.


The political world also had their admirers with the names like Al Gore and Kyoto being suggested more than once as possible whale names as were some famous historical figures in Mahatma Ghandi, Evita and Che Guevara.

John Howard, the current Australian Prime Minister, received a somewhat poisoned chalice of a nomination with the nominee suggesting that the Prime Ministers name would make a great whale name as his career is endangered just like humpback whales.

The weird and wonderful

Reading through the 8,000 plus entries submitted so far, there are many great whale names but every now and again, you find an entry that makes you smile.

Food names seemed to be mentioned more than most whales would be comfortable with. Names like Peppernose, Porkball, Fudge, Marshmallow, Chilli, Peanut, Noodle and Sushi all came up and names of drinks also appeared with Merlot, Champagne and Sherry.

But for the just plain strange, you can't go past names like Bouncy, Moose, Buffy Jo, Avenger, Trilby Foxglove, Fluffy (you'd be amazed how often that came up), Swishy, Delicate Bamboo, Pinky, Megatron, Big Bertha, Big Kahuna, Big Ben, Big Roy (named after a hamster!) and Little George.

But the one that had us laughing the most, which is not to say it will get into the list of top names, was definitely the name Mister Splashy Pants.