Meet the Newly Named Right Whales of 2022

Twenty North Atlantic right whales were winners in this year's name game.

By New England Aquarium on Wednesday, December 14, 2022

See caption below
Photo taken on an aerial survey sponsored by MassCEC and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Right whale photos taken under NMFS research permit #19674.

Monica Pepe of Whale and Dolphin Conservation assisted with writing this article. Content on this page cannot be shared for commercial use without permission. 

What’s in a name? Quite a lot if you are one of the 340 remaining North Atlantic right whales!

Naming right whales not only makes it easier for audiences to care about them as individuals, it also helps in their identification. Researchers working in the field must be able to correctly identify individual right whales in real-time, so they know when they need to collect biopsy samples for genetic studies, check for the presence or absence of entangling gear or take better photographs for long-term studies of the population. Every right whale in the North Atlantic right whale catalog is assigned a four-digit number based on the year they were born or first seen, as well as the last two digits of their mother’s number if the mother is known. Catalog numbers provide lots of information about individual whales but are less personal, and for some researchers and observers, it is easier to remember names than numbers, so a subgroup of whales is selected for naming each year. 

The purpose of naming right whales is to help identify individuals, so nominated names must relate to some easily recognizable feature or fact about a particular whale to be useful. As an example, a female right whale was named Accordion during last year’s naming session because she has many propeller scars across her back that look like the pleats of an accordion. Another right whale was named Iceland after her unusual sighting in 2003 off the coast of… you guessed it… Iceland!

There were a record number of submitted names this year, and ranked-choice voting was once again used to select the final names, which were presented at the annual North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium meeting in October. Following the success of last year’s right whale naming process, where all 18 nominated right whales were named, once again, the voters have spoken, and an additional 20 right whales have been named in 2022.


Name: Medusa (Catalog #1208)

Sex: F+

Age: 41+

Reason for name: My markings look like the adult stage of jellyfish, known as medusa.

Closest friend: Aphrodite (Catalog #1701)

Favorite place to hang: I like to hang out in Cape Cod Bay or down in the Southeast when I have a calf in tow. 

Favorite song: Turn to Stone — Electric Light Orchestra



Name: Ghost (Catalog #1515)

Sex: F+

Age: 37+

Reason for name: My callosity is shaped like a Halloween ghost, complete with eyes!

Closest friend: Casper (Catalog #4140)

Favorite place to hang: I’m often found further offshore on George’s Bank or in the Great South Channel.

Favorite song: Ghost of You — 5 Seconds of Summer



Name: Jedi (Catalog #2541)

Sex: Male

Age: 27

Reason for name: My overall callosity pattern resembles a spaceship battle from Star Wars.

Closest friend: Nebula (Catalog #4423)

Favorite place to hang: I like to travel all up and down the Atlantic coast, from Florida to the Gulf of Maine.

Favorite song: Star Wars Theme — John Williams



Name: Vega (Catalog #2904)

Sex: Male

Age: 23

Reason for name: I have three dots on my left head that look like the Summer Triangle constellation, and Vega is the name of one of those stars.

Closest friend: Galileo (Catalog #1720)

Favorite place to hang: The Gulf of St. Lawrence is always on my list of places to visit.

Favorite song: A Sky Full of Stars — Coldplay



Name: Veer (Catalog #3060)

Sex: Male

Age:  23

Reason for name: The two main callosities on my head look like they are trying to veer away from each other.

Closest friends: Swerve (Catalog #1810)

Favorite place to hang: I’m seen most often in Cape Cod Bay, though sometimes I deviate into Massachusetts Bay or the Great South Channel. 

Favorite song: Fork In The Road — Neil Young



Name: Cyclops (Catalog #3220)

Sex: F+

Age: 20+

Reason for name: I have a single, bright white spot in my callosity, just like a cyclops has a single eye.

Closest friends: Frida (Catalog #3317)

Favorite place to hang: Most of my sightings have been along the southeastern US.

Favorite song: Eye of the Tiger — Survivor



Name: Cascade (Catalog #3157)

Sex: F+

Age: 21

Reason for name: The scars on my left lip cascade down like a waterfall.

Closest friend: Avalanche (Catalog #4440)

Favorite place to hang: I like to spend time in Cape Cod Bay and the Gulf of St. Lawrence when I’m not on the calving grounds in the southeast.

Favorite song: Waterfalls — TLC



Name: Uca (Catalog #3390)

Sex: F+

Age: 19

Reason for name: My right side marking is much larger than my left, just like the claws on a fiddler crab, whose Latin name is Uca.

Closest friend: Limulus (Catalog #2912)

Favorite place to hang: Bay of Fundy was my area of choice for a long time, but changing ocean conditions have me spending more time in the Gulf of St. Lawrence these days.

Favorite song: Crab — Weezer



Name: Cashew (Catalog #3292)

Sex: F+

Age: 20

Reason for name: The biggest marking on my head is shaped like a cashew nut.

Closest friend: Popcorn (Catalog #4194)

Favorite place to hang: I like to travel throughout the Gulf of Maine, visiting Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts Bay, and George’s Bank.

Favorite song: Over You — Cashew Chemists



Name: Chianti (Catalog #3430)

Sex: F+

Age: 18

Reason for name: My callosity is shaped like a Fiasco bottle often used for Chianti.

Closest friend: Champagne (Catalog #3904)

Favorite place to hang: I can be found in every popular spot throughout the Gulf of Maine.

Favorite song:  Red Red Wine — UB40



Name: Barbell (Catalog #3414)

Sex: Male

Age: 18

Reason for name: My callosity is shaped like a barbell used in weightlifting.

Closest friend: Javelin (Catalog #1112)

Favorite place to hang: I enjoy being where my friends are, usually in Cape Cod Bay or Southern New England.

Favorite song: Sexy and I Know It — LMFAO



Name: Squilla (Catalog #3720)

Sex: F+

Age: 15

Reason for name: The branches out of either side of my callosity look like the eyes of a Squilla mantis shrimp. This is also a lineage name because my mother is named Mantis!

Closest friend: Lobster (Catalog #3232)

Favorite place to hang: Most of the time, I can be found in the Gulf of St. Lawrence or Cape Cod Bay.

Favorite song: So Small — Carrie Underwood



Name: Sandbar (Catalog #3651)

Sex: Male

Age: 16

Reason for name: I am named for my very large lip callosities. This is a lineage name; my mother’s name is MaVynee, named after environmental activist MaVynee Betsch, also known as the Beach Lady. I also have a half-brother named Dune who has large lips, just like our mother!

Closest friend: Dune (Catalog #3351)

Favorite place to hang: I’m a big fan of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and also enjoy Cape Cod waters, where there are sandbars galore.

Favorite song: Stranded on a Sandbar — Jimmy Buffett



Name: Warrior (Catalog #3942)

Sex: F+

Age: 13

Reason for name: The white scar across my head looks like war paint, and the large scars on my tail show that I have been through battle.

Closest friend: Musketeer (Catalog #4360)

Favorite place to hang: My travels take me all along the east coast, from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to Florida.

Favorite song: Fighter — Christina Aguilera



Name: Squid (Catalog #3840)

Sex: Male

Age: 14

Reason for name: My callosity pattern looks like a squid with moving tentacles.

Closest friend: Seadragon (Catalog #3680)

Favorite place to hang: I like to explore Cape Cod Bay and Georges Bank.

Favorite song: With Arms Wide Open — Creed



Name: Beaker (Catalog #4523)

Sex: Male

Age: 7

Reason for name: The markings on my head look like the Muppets character, Beaker. 

Closest friends: Snoopy (Catalog #1056)

Favorite place to hang: Cape Cod Bay, Southern New England, and the Gulf of St. Lawrence are my top three choices.

Favorite song: The Rainbow Connection — Kermit the Frog



Name: Dyad (Catalog #4180)

Sex: F+

Age: 12

Reason for name: I have two parallel scars on my right lip, and a dyad is something that consists of two parts.

Closest friend: Binary (Catalog #3010)

Favorite place to hang: If I’m not in the southeast with a new calf, I’m probably in Cape Cod Bay or the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Favorite song: It Takes Two — Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock



Name: Wishbone (Catalog #4640)

Sex: Female

Age: 6

Reason for name: The scar on the right side of my head is shaped like a wishbone. 

Closest friend: Dog-Ear (Catalog #3590)

Favorite place to hang: In addition to Cape Cod Bay, I like to explore Georges Bank and the Great South Channel.

Favorite song: I Wish — Stevie Wonder



Name: Hercules (Catalog #4615)

Sex: Male

Age: 6

Reason for name: The long mark on my head looks like Hercules’ club, and like Hercules, I have faced many trials in my lifetime, most recently a severe entanglement in fishing gear in 2021.

Closest friend: Cassiopeia (Catalog #4041)

Favorite place to hang: I spend a lot of time in Cape Cod Bay and the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Favorite song: Go The Distance — Michael Bolton



Name: Whirligig (Catalog #4711)

Sex: Male

Age: 5

Reason for name: A marking on my head looks like maple tree seeds, which are sometimes called whirligigs. 

Closest friend: Twister (Catalog #3510)

Favorite place to hang: As a juvenile, there is still so much for me to see; I can’t pick a favorite yet!

Favorite song: Fire Maple Song — Everclear



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