CHICAGO (CBS) — Depending on when you grew up, you might have fond childhood memories of the Raffi song “Baby Beluga” – “Baby beluga in the deep blue sea, swim so wild and you swim so free….”


As it happens, there is a baby beluga at the Shedd Aquarium right now – who is in need of a more specific name.

The beluga calf was born at the aquarium in early July. Guests at the Shedd’s “Asleep with the Fishes” overnight event on Friday night got the privilege of casting the first votes – and for the week to come, the public may do the same.

Shedd Aquarium Beluga Calf

This beluga calf at the Shedd Aquarium needs a name. (Credit: Shedd Aquarium)

Anyone may vote in Pod Poll 2019 at this link Shedd’s website or at the aquarium. Voting closes on the evening of Thursday, Nov. 21, and the winning name will be announced on Friday.

Following tradition at the Shedd, the five options for the name all come from the language of the Inuit, the indigenous people of the beluga’s native Arctic range:

Annik (AH-nik), meaning blizzard;
Imavik (EE-mah-vik), meaning ocean;
Ikullak (EE-koo-lak), meaning confident;
Naniitchuk (nah-nee-EET-chuk), meaning brave;
Kulu (KOO-loo), term of endearment for babies and young children.

The first four possible names were selected by the animal care team at the Shedd. The fifth, Kulu, was chosen by participants in a Shedd Adventures trip focused on beluga whales in Canada.

“From day one, this calf has been a strong, playful and independent addition to the pod, so many of the names we chose reflect his personality,” Maris Muzzy, manager of whales and dolphins at Shedd, said in a news release. “The calf has provided incredible data as we’ve observed his growth and behavior – and this is valuable information that we are already sharing with our partners who can use and interpret the information as they monitor and protect wild belugas and habitats that are critical for their survival.

The beluga calf was born on July 3 and has been growing steadily – now weighing in at more than 330 pounds. The calf’s mother, Mauyak, has had four calves previously, with the most recent being Kimalu in 2012.