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Name an orca calf

Orca female SN200 with young calf - Photo: Orca Guardians Iceland

ORCA watchers in Shetland, alongside enthusiasts from Scotland and Iceland, are being asked to help name a young orca calf which belongs to a group of killer whales regularly seen from these shores.

The calf was first spotted on 20 November along the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, in Iceland, and is the latest offspring of female SN200 (West Iceland ID number), known in Scotland as 012.

The group of orcas spends the winter in Icelandic waters, while migrating south to Shetland and Scotland in the spring and summer.

In the past, both countries ran separate naming programs resulting in animals that travel between the two countries having two different names, often resulting in confusion when sightings were reported.

The naming contest has been organised by Orca Guardians Iceland, a non-profit killer whale research and conservation organisation based in West Iceland.

The contest will start on the 4 May on Orca Guardians Iceland’s Facebook page.

Firstly, the public is invited to send in naming suggestions for the calf. Four of these will be selected by an international panel of judges, then the public will have the opportunity to vote on four names and select their favourite, which will then be added to the West Iceland ID catalogue.

The judges come from the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Living Seas Project, Caithness Sea Watching/Orca Watch, Shetland Wildlife, and Orca Guardians Iceland. The contest runs until 19 May.

Hugh Harrop of Shetland Wildlife and creator of the Shetland Orca Sightings Facebook page said he was “absolutely delighted” to be involved.

“It is fantastic how the North Atlantic whale-watching community has pulled together. It’s a great way of raising awareness of these very special creatures,” he said.

A previous contest was won by pupils from Sunnyside Primary School, in Glasgow, who are raising awareness on cetacean conservation issues as part of their curriculum.

More information on the adoption program and the work of Orca Guardians Iceland can be found here.

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