A Sounder gray whale. (Cascadia Research)

A Sounder gray whale. (Cascadia Research)

Don’t be flummoxed: Help is needed to name 5 Puget Sound gray whales

The voting poll on the Sounders, as these whales are called, is until Sunday for the grays dining in our waters.

LANGLEY — Whaley McWhaleFace isn’t on the list.

Flummox is.

The public can help select the names of five gray whales in North Puget Sound. The voting poll on the Sounders, as these whales are called, is until Sunday.

The sponsors, Cascadia Research Collective and the Orca Network, came up with three name choices per whale.

The list is set, rather than let the Internet choose a name as a British government agency did in 2016 for a $300 million polar research ship that led to Boaty McBoatFace as the runaway favorite.

The five whales needing names are currently identified by numbers.

Options for the Sounder known by Cascadia Research as whale No. 2356 are the names Delta, Stalwart and Flummox.

A Sounder gray whale. (Cascadia Research)

A Sounder gray whale. (Cascadia Research)

Delta stems from the popular Snohomish Delta feeding place. Stalwart is for strong: No. 2356 survived a killer whale attack and has rake marks along the dorsal hump area. Flummox for how difficult gray whales can be to identify, causing people to get bewildered or flummoxed.

Other whale names in the overall mix include Rip, Monet, Lorax, Scuffy and Cascade.

The Sounders return every spring to feed in the waters around Everett, Camano Island and Whidbey Island. Word in the whale world is these waters have some of the best ghost shrimp around.

The Sounders were first documented by Cascadia Research in the early 1990s, when six gray whales were identified as annual regulars. The number has grown to 20 gray whales in recent years. Whales already named include Shackleton, Earhart, Little Patch and Lucyfer.

Orca Network spokesperson Cindy Hansen said more whales are showing up earlier and staying longer.

You might have caught a glimpse of some flukes and been flummoxed.

“Little Patch is the whale who arrived in December, and Earhart arrived in January,” Hansen said. “Her buddy Shackleton just arrived on Sunday and seems to have immediately gone and found her. They are the two whales who originally found this area together in 1990 and often spend time together when they are here.”

A gray whale can weigh 30 to 40 tons, she said.

“A high percentage of the overall gray whale population has died and the majority of those examined have shown signs of malnutrition,” she said. “Gray whales are pretty adaptable and some individuals will search for food in new areas when it is no longer available in their traditional feeding areas.”

An updated Sounders ID Guide will be available online and at the Langley Whale Center, 115 Anthes St., that is operated by the Orca Network.

The Welcome the Whales Festival in Langley is April 15 and 16. The event has costumes, parades and other attractions in Langley, where a waterfront bell is rung to alert all when a whale is sighted.

The bell is next to the 12-foot Hope the Whale bronze sculpture by Clinton resident Georgia Gerber, whose numerous public art installations include Rachel the Pig at Seattle’s Pike Place Market.

“We are excited to document the expanded use of our waters by the Sounders gray whales, and we hope the public will participate in welcoming and naming these whales,” John Calambokidis, a Cascadia Research research biologist, said in a news release.

More at orcanetwork.org and cascadiaresearch.org.

Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; abrown@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @reporterbrown.

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