Baby orca seen around Whidbey gets a name

A baby whale that’s part of J Pod, which often can be seen swimming around Whidbey Island, has a new name.

On June 29, the Samish Indian Nation held a traditional potlatch naming ceremony for J-49, the newest J Pod calf in the Southern Resident Community of orcas.

The Whale Museum in Friday Harbor participated in the ceremony by providing ceremonial gifts for the attendees as well as a greeting. The museum was asked to appoint a witness to the ceremony. He walked to the center of the blankets where words were spoken in the Samish language. The young man moved off the blankets with the image and slowly moved about the gathering “introducing”’ this young killer whale to all in attendance. Proceeding behind him were reverent singers and drummers.

J-49’s name was announced: T’ìlem Inges (pronounced “teelem eenges”). This name means ‚“singing grandchild.” The Naming Ceremony promoted a feeling of community and commitment. This ceremony was the 4th traditional potlatch naming ceremony. The tradition started with T’ilem Inges’ mother Hy’Shqu (J-37) in 2001. Hy’Shqa means ‚“thank you” or ‚“blessing” in Coast Salish. The ceremony was special to both The Whale Museum and the Samish Nation as it symbolized the continuation of the tradition of naming the whale calves of this orca matriline.

T’ilem Inges (J-49) is now entered into the Orca Adoption Program where he can be symbolically adopted. Adopting this young calf or another whale in the Southern Resident Community supports the mission of The Whale Museum which promotes stewardship of whales and the Salish Sea eco-system through education and research. Visit

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