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Orca calf receives Samish name

ANACORTES, Wash. – An orca calf has been given a traditional name by the Samish Indian Nation.

On Oct. 17, Samish hosted a naming ceremony and potlatch at its Fidalgo Bay Resort for the killer whale, which received the name Se-Y?-Chn. Witnesses included Jeanne Hyde, coordinator of the Orca Adoption Program at the Whale Museum in Friday Harbor.

The name, pronounced “sea-ee-chin,” means “younger one.” The killer whale is a member of the Southern Resident pods that spend much of the year in the ancestral waters of the Samish people. The Center for Whale Research, which maintains a census of the killer whales, has designated the orca as J45.

Other members of Se-Y?-Chn’s family include Samish (J14), Hy’Shqa (J37), and Suttles (J40); J40 was named by the Samish in honor of the late Dr. Wayne Suttles, the noted anthropologist who devoted his career to the study of the Coast Salish culture and language, in 2005.

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The Southern Resident killer whales are listed as an endangered species in the U.S. and Canada. The population is 86, according to the Center for Whale Research. The biggest threats to the whales’ survival are diminished runs of salmon, their primary prey; as well as pollution and interference from vessels.