What's in a name? Shedd's picks for the baby beluga

Puiji and her baby calf on December 15, 2009. (Shedd Aquarium)

May 24, 2010 8:10:01 AM PDT
The Shedd Aquarium has narrowed it down to 10 names for the beluga whale calf born on December 14, 2009.

The baby boy is almost six months old, but waiting to name a beluga is standard procedure, according to the Shedd Aquarium.

"A newborn calf must reach several milestones in its first days and months," said Ken Ramirez, senior vice president of animal collections and training, when the baby was born. Another beluga-- born just days after this one-- died.

The Shedd Aquarium uses Inuit names for most of its baby belugas. The Inuit are indigenous people who live in the Arctic regions with beluga whales, dolphins, sea otters and sea lions.

"Out of respect for the native Inuit people and their culture, almost all of Shedd's beluga whales derive their names from the Inuit language," said Ramirez.

The male beluga's mother is named Puiji, which means "those who show their noses," and his father is named Naluark, which means "whitened skin."

The ten Inuit names selected for this baby are:

  • Ipiktok, (Ip-eek-tock), Very keen or sharp
  • Opipok, (Oh-pee-pock) , Admirable, to admire
  • Tuwawi, (Too-wah-wee), Quick
  • Nilak, (Nee-lock), Fresh water ice
  • Kimalu, (Kee-ma-loo), Traditional Inuit name given to special people
  • Mituk, (Mee-took), Small snow layer on fishing hole
  • Nunavik, (New-na-vik), Friendly, beautiful, and wild
  • Aniuk, (Ah-nee-ook), Snow for drinking water
  • Aput , (Ah-poot), Snow on ground
  • Akiak, (Ah-kee-ock), Brave
  • Which one do you like best? Pick your favorite for a chance to win a Beluga Experience. Read the Official Rules.

    What the other beluga whales' names mean:

    Names and Inuit translations

  • Puiji (poo-EE-jee) means "those who show their noses."
  • Naya (NI-yah) means "little sister of a male."
  • Mauyak (MI-yak) means "soft snow."
  • Kayavak (KAY-yah-vok) means "singing game producing soft echoes."
  • Bella (BEL-la), the only Shedd beluga without an Inuit name, was named in a contest by viewers of ABC's "Good Morning America." Bella means "beautiful" in Italian.
  • Naluark (Na-LOO-ark) means "whitened skin."
  • Miki (MEE-kee) means "little."

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