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September 18, 2020

These right whales need names, can you help?

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A North Atlantic right whale breaches in Canada's Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Nick Hawkins


A whale with a name usually has a story to tell. Right whales’ names are often connected to their markings or scars and now you can help pick names for 18 right whales.

Meet the right whale

North Atlantic right whales are found in the north Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Canada and the U.S. They were once hunted to the brink of extinction and had begun to rebound until entanglements in fishing gear and collisions with ships have threatened their survival once again. Today, they are one of the most endangered whales on the planet, with only around 360 left. Oceana has been campaigning to help protect them. Find out more about our work and how you can support their protection here.

Right whales are mostly black in colour, but sometimes have white markings on their faces and undersides. They have thick grey or white patches, called callosities, scattered across their bodies which are created by whale lice, barnacles and parasitic worms. The patterns these callosities form are unique to each whale, allowing scientists to distinguish individuals and can occasionally contribute to their names. Additionally, many right whales are named for scars left behind from getting tangled in fishing gear or being struck by ships.

Naming North Atlantic right whales is important because when a right whale is spotted, it’s helpful for researchers to be able to identify them in real-time to connect what we already know or need to know about them.  For example, when was the last time they were seen entangled? Do they need help? Is there a satellite tag on them? Are they pregnant or with a calf?

Help pick a name

The North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium is giving YOU the opportunity to contribute to the story of 18 critically endangered North Atlantic right whales by helping name them. The nomination period for submitting names for these whales is September 21 at noon EST.

Here are the 18 whales you can help name and short descriptions about them.

Here is where you can submit your names. Good luck!

Need more inspiration? Get the story behind two right whale names:


Boomerang is named after a boomerang-shaped scar on the underside of her fluke. Credit: Mingan Island Cetacean Study


After a ship strike, Wolverine was left with a propeller scar on his back. The three distinctive marks resemble the popular Marvel comic book character. Credit: Sheila McKenney, Marineland Right Whale Project