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After a crowded visit to see where the story of Humphrey began, our two whales head home.

As I said in my column last Thursday: “Say, you don’t suppose these two new whales are just on vacation and taking the Humphrey cruise, do you?”

And now they’re heading home.

Good luck Malahini and Makai, or Rio and Vista, or Delta Dawn and Sunny, or Delta and Dawn, or whatever your names are. May the forces be with you on your long trip home.

I hope you make it.

Posted on Monday, May 21st, 2007
Under: Whales | No Comments »


What’s in a name?

Holy cetaceans, Batman, what do we do now?!

Little did we know that at the same time we (the Times) decided to have a fun little contest to name those two wayward whales after receiving some unsolicited names from our readers … at LEAST six other media organizations (two newspapers and four TV stations) were busy doing the same.

They include: the San Francisco Chronicle, Sacramento Bee,,,, and

There may have been lots more but my fingers were starting to get numb after calling up 20 or 30 pages on the Internet while doing a Google search for “whale names” this morning.

I was a bit taken aback at a snippy comment by a Chronicle reporter on its Web site at at the end of a story announcing that Rio and Vista had “overwhelmingly” won their naming contest. The comment: “We’d also like to note that the Contra Costa Times stole our idea. It will be interesting to see if their results are different from ours … “

A Times staff member playfully entered a comment in response to the above at the end of their story: “We do have to admit that wasn’t the first to ask readers to name the whales, but we didn’t steal the idea just from SFGate. We brazenly swiped the concept from several news sites, including, and We received dozens of nominations, picked 10 and are running a poll that asks readers for the best. Our candidates include “Delta and Rio” but not “Rio and Vista.” Maybe when it’s done we should do another poll, pitting the winner against the winners from the other sites.”

Just below our comment on SFGate were two other comments from S.F. Chronicle readers:

“CCT stole ‘your’ idea? Um, sorry. It wasn’t your original idea. It’s pretty normal for humans to want to humanize animals, and giving them pet names goes with the territory. Sorry, you are not the first, and wow, what a tacky way you are expressing your feelings.”

“Lighten Up! I think it’s great that the public is engaging in this news story.”

Actually, I think we should all “lighten up” and focus on the REAL problem generated by this wild scramble to name those two whales.

If we had nearly 200 names submitted when we asked our readers to name the whales, the other six organizations named above probably got at least that many or more when they asked their readers or viewers to name the whales. That’s roughly 1,400 whale names floating around out there in the atmosphere — yet another cause of global warming — just waiting to be picked.

And we know our readers are really having fun with this. I just checked and as I’m writing this, 1,130 people have voted in our Name The Whales Poll. I’m sure it’s the same at those other sites.

When all this picking is finally done, seven news organizations, the six listed above plus us, (plus who-knows-how-many other organizations that we don’t even know about) will each claim that “We have named the whales.”

I can see it now:

Contra Costa Times reports Gracie and George are finally heading down the river.
San Francisco Chronicle reports Rio and Vista are finally heading down the river.
Sacramento Bee reports Fred and Wilma are finally heading down the river. reports Mona and Lisa are finally heading down the river. reports Lucy and Little Ricky are finally heading down the river. reports Mama Humphrey and Humphrey Jr. are finally heading down the river. reports Beauty and Bumpy are finally heading down the river.

I’ll bet Moby Dick never had this much trouble getting a name.

As I said at the beginning of this rant, “Holy whale, Batman, what do we do now?!”

Maybe we should just make it easy on everybody and ask the whales what their names are.

Now … let’s all link hands and generate as much positive energy as we can to help those poor whales find their way back to their home in the ocean. I think they’re going to need all the help they can get.

Posted on Friday, May 18th, 2007
Under: Whales | 5 Comments »