Sir Charles Tupper Elementary wins Name the Whale Challenge

Media Release, February 26, 2015

Taking matters into their own hands, Grade 6 students in Halifax raised $512.50 for blue whale research and public awareness in Atlantic Canada

February 26, 2015

HALIFAX -- Thanks to the creativity of Matthew Szeto’s Grade 6 classroom at Sir Charles Tupper Elementary in Halifax, blue whale B392 will hereafter be known as Iris, named for the uncanny shape of an eye discovered in her pigmentation. The students participated in the Sierra Club Canada Foundation/ the Mingan Island Cetacean Study “Name the Whale Challenge”.

“Children haven’t named something this big since the planet Pluto,” said Blue Whale Campaign coordinator Zack Metcalfe.

This class of whale enthusiasts is shown above, delivering
their cheque to Blue Whale Campaign coordinator Zack Metcalfe (left)

The Name the Whale Challenge resounded loudly among children in classrooms throughout the Halifax Regional School Board. As part of the challenge, Mr. Metcalfe visited classroom after classroom, sharing the history of blue whales and their modern struggle for survival. Afterward, he would deliver a personal challenge for each class to suggest a name for B392. The results surprised even him.

“I must have given well over thirty presentations in the course of a month,” said Mr. Metcalfe. “I was taken aback by the enthusiasm and passion of some classes. In fact, one group rendered me speechless.”

The whale in question was dispassionately known as B392 by the researchers who first identified her in the Gulf of St Lawrence back in 2003. She’s carried this dull handle until the Name the Whale Challenge was opened to the public, put on by the Sierra Club’s Blue Whale Campaign. This challenge acted as a fundraiser to support cetacean research and public awareness across Atlantic Canada.

“The challenge was more than just a fundraiser,” said campaign coordinator Zack Metcalfe. “It was about bringing the lives and struggles of blue whales into the public discussion.”

Photos of B392 were made available on the challenge’s webpage for the public to scrutinize and when they found a recognizable mark in her unique pigmentation, they suggested a name which best described that mark. For example, the shape of a heart on her back inspired the name Valentine, although this worthy entry was not the winner.

Grade 6 students of Westmount Elementary were responsible for suggesting the name Valentine, which placed second overall in judging. This classroom, under the direction of teacher Suzanne Boylan, took it upon themselves to launch a school-wide fundraiser on behalf of the blue whale, raising a staggering $512.50.

In total the Name a Whale Challenge raised $1014.55 and B392 received the name she so desperately needed.

Proceeds will go to the Mingan Island Cetacean Study (the organization responsible for identifying Iris and supplying photos for the challenge) and are designated for continued blue whale research in Atlantic Canada and elsewhere. To learn more about the Mingan Island Cetacean Study, visit their website at To learn about the Blue Whale Campaign, click here.

For more information, contact Blue Whale Campaign coordinator Zack Metcalfe at or by phone at 1-902-856-1241.

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