Name the Baby Beluga at the Vancouver Aquarium

Comments 17 by Rebecca Bollwitt

Update: The baby’s name has been chosen, and will now be called Tiqa

This summer I had the chance to visit the Vancouver Aquarium for the first time in about a decade. What I discovered was that it was far from simply being a tourist attraction and an entertainment destination. It’s a valuable research facility, a way to teach children about sustainability and its impact on animals and the environment, and the staff are some of the nicest people you’ll meet.

Qila and Calf @ The Vancouver Aquarium

In a news release this morning, the Vancouver Aquarium announced a contest to name the newest addition to their family, Qila’s baby beluga calf.

Starting today (Monday, September 29), Canadians are invited to visit the Vancouver Aquarium website at to submit a name suggestion.

Submissions will be accepted up to 11:59 p.m. Friday, October 10, 2008. Our panel of judges will select five “finalist” names, and Vancouver Aquarium Members will vote on their favourite. The winning name will be published in the Vancouver Sun and announced live on Global Television’s morning news Friday, October 24, 2008.

Five prizes each consisting of an annual Vancouver Aquarium family membership will be randomly awarded from all contest entries. The membership provides admission to the Vancouver Aquarium for one year for two adults and three children (ages 4-18)

The Grand Prize winner will receive a “one of a kind” Beluga Encounter with the baby, Qila and Aurora hosted by our veterinarian and our Marine Mammal Curator. Plus, the grand prize also includes an annual Vancouver Aquarium family membership and a $150.00 (CAD) gift certificate from the Gift Shop at the Aquarium.

You can watch the baby on the Aquarium’s Beluga Cam for some inspiration or visit the Vancouver Aquarium for a closer look.

17 Comments  —  Comments Are Closed

  1. DarrenMonday, September 29th, 2008 — 10:24am PDT

    I’m going to be a total Debbie Downer here, but isn’t the mortality rate for new-borne whales in captivity, like, dreadfully high?

    I went searching for science on this, but only found this dodgy page which indicates “six out of seven baby whales and dolphins have died at the [Vancouver] aquarium”. I don’t know if that’s correct, but it sounds right to me.

    I don’t agree with them, but there are arguments for keeping whales in captivity. Those arguments get much, much sketchier when, facing those odds, you permit them to breed.

    Hmm…I’m going to email somebody at the Vancouver Aquarium about this, to ask for clarification.

  2. DarrenMonday, September 29th, 2008 — 10:26am PDT

    Whoops, forgot to link to the dodgy page:

  3. RobMonday, September 29th, 2008 — 12:34pm PDT

    We took my daughter Maya to see the whales not too long ago; it’s a breathtaking sight to see these animals up close, and of course the Girl was enthralled (although she liked the Sea Lions best – they’re much louder, which appears to be important to her…). We’ve got our membership to the Aquarium secured, and I’m glad we’ve got such a great facility.

    As far as survival rates go, I imagine the experts there feel that the baby has a pretty good chance. It wouldn’t do to ask kids to name it otherwise. I think too that because baby has two caregivers – Mum and Grandma – that increases the chances as well. And I don’t know if the isolation of the father won’t also be a factor in favour of baby’s survival.

    This last point is kind of depressing; that in nature, the male is often a danger to his progeny.

  4. Mom604Monday, September 29th, 2008 — 1:05pm PDT

    Yay! Let’s hear it for Grandmas! I understand she had a big hand (or fin) in helping with the baby.

  5. RobMonday, September 29th, 2008 — 1:09pm PDT

    @Mom604. Yes, apparently, Grandma had to give Mum a bit of a ‘pep talk’ at first, as she fled to the other side of the tank whenever baby approached. The older whale was instrumental in helping to create a rapport between Mum and baby – pretty common in the human species too, I guess.

  6. Keira-AnneMonday, September 29th, 2008 — 4:28pm PDT

    I know the kid who named Qila years ago. He’s a sweet boy. 🙂

  7. RoshanMonday, September 29th, 2008 — 8:19pm PDT

    I cannot enter the contest since I am not Canadian but according to the rules posted at the offical site of the Aquarium, neither are people from Quebec! Have the people at the aquarium already considered Quebec to have seceded from the nation?

  8. DarrenMonday, September 29th, 2008 — 10:08pm PDT

    Roshan: The laws around contests (and many other topics) are different in Quebec, thanks to differing legal traditions:

  9. stickMonday, September 29th, 2008 — 10:25pm PDT

    Quebec has different contest rules than the rest of Canada.

    No one really knows what is normal survivability for whales. Researchers estimate that in the wild it is 50/50 for Orcas, and that is about all they know. No one knows what normal is.

  10. BlackhawkMonday, September 29th, 2008 — 10:35pm PDT

    Looks like the Capilano Suspension Bridge is holding their own name contest:

  11. What’s Up Wednesdays: Name the Beluga || Beyond the Rhetoric ||Wednesday, October 1st, 2008 — 11:05am PDT

    […] have heard, the Aquarium recently welcomed a new addition to the family and they need your help. Name the baby beluga and you could win some great prizes. Feel free to derive some inspiration from the baby beluga […]

  12. Ed LauWednesday, October 1st, 2008 — 4:44pm PDT

    We are so naming that whale Batman.

  13. Miss604Wednesday, October 1st, 2008 — 4:47pm PDT

    @Ed haha that’s awesome

  14. fishThursday, October 2nd, 2008 — 10:16am PDT

    I vote Elmer Fudd

  15. April CampbellTuesday, October 14th, 2008 — 8:21pm PDT

    I wish to name the baby bauga Athena after the godess of wisdom
    from greek mythology.

    I think this is a great name for the whale.

  16. Will the Aquarium’s Newest Resident Live a Long and Full Life?Sunday, June 7th, 2009 — 7:53pm PDT

    […] I read about Qila’s birth on Rebecca’s blog, I wondered about the survival rate for whale births in captivity. I did a little research, and […]

  17. LynnSunday, June 7th, 2009 — 10:50pm PDT

    To the very first post from Darren, I volunteer at the Aquarium and have an unofficial log of every major event that occurred at the Aquarium…

    The first beluga born was Tuaq in 1977, who died after three months from a soil bacterium, which also kills domestic animals. So not really anything particularly unique to the Aquarium.

    (Side note, 18-year-old beluga Skana died in 1980, the longest-lived killer whale in an aquarium)

    1988, Bjossa (killer whale) gives birth to a calf who dies later due to either Bjossa’s milk either being insufficient in quantity or not rich enough.

    1991 Bjossa gives birth to another calf, named K’yosha, who was active and appeared healthy, until three weeks later when she was separated from her mother because Bjossa could no longer sustain feedings. The Aquarium attempted to hand-raise her, but she died in January, 1992 from a massive brain infection.

    1995 Bjossa gives birth to her third calf, which dies less than 10 minutes after birth, because the umbilical cord broke before it was born.

    1995 Aurora gives birth to Qila, who is still alive and healthy (and had her own calf called Tiqa recently)

    2002 Tuvaq is born.

    2005 Tuvaq suddenly dies. (hopefully no longer considered a newborn?)

    2008 – Qila gives birth to Tiqa

    June 7, 2009 (today!) – Aurora gives birth to her second calf, who is of yet unnamed.

    So in total, only four of the whale calfs died at an age that would be considered newborn, while another passed away at 3 years. And the rest are all fine…Don’t know where that website got its information from but most of it appears faulty.

Also on