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Shedd Aquarium wants you to help name its baby beluga whale

Voting for your favorite name is now open at the aquarium and on its website.

This beluga whale calf born at the Shedd Aquarium needs a name. Your vote will help decide what that name will be.
This beluga whale calf born at the Shedd Aquarium needs a name. Your vote will help decide what that name will be.
Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

What’s in a name? The Shedd Aquarium is hoping it’s your input.

Born at the aquarium this summer, a now four-month-old, adorable beluga whale calf is six-feet long and weighs 330 pounds, and he’s swimming pretty close to mama these days. He’s also nameless, but that’s about to change.

The official voting for the calf’s name got under way Friday at the Shedd’s “Asleep With the Fishes” overnight event, where 300 attendees became the first to cast their votes from among a list of name options selected by the animal care staff at the aquarium.

And now it’s your turn.

As is customary for all belugas at the Shedd, the name must come from the Intuit language, native to the region of the Arctic populated by the whales. (The calf’s 38-year-old mom is named Mauyak, which means “soft snow.”)

You can cast your vote for the calf’s name from among the following:

Annik (AH-nik), meaning blizzard

Imavik (EE-mah-vik), meaning ocean

Ikullak (EE-koo-lak), meaning confident

Naniitchuk (nah-nee-EET-chuk), meaning brave

Kulu (KOO-loo), a term of endearment for babies and young children

Votes can be submitted through Nov. 21 via the Pod Poll 2019 link on the Shedd’s website or onsite at the aquarium. The winning name will be announced Nov. 22

“It was such a wonderful surprise when we got to tell the kids and families at the overnight that they were going to help us choose a name for this special calf,” said Samantha Norton, senior director of learning programs at Shedd Aquarium, via statement.

Mauyak and her four-month-old beluga whale calf swim at the Shedd Aquarium.
Mauyak and her four-month-old beluga whale calf swim at the Shedd Aquarium.
Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

Some interesting facts about the beluga whales, courtesy of the Shedd Aquarium:

Belugas are found in the Arctic and the circumpolar waters of North America, Russia and Greenland. Belugas can be easily recognized by their white color, the absence of a dorsal fin, attributable to their habitat, and the distinctive rounded “melon,” the echolocation organ at the front of the head. Adult belugas can grow up to 18 feet long and weigh more than 3,000 pounds. Like other toothed whales, belugas use sounds and echolocation for navigation, to find breathing holes in the ice and to hunt in dark or turbid waters.