Local whale advocacy groups are putting a call out to name the next baby orca born in Washington after one of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
Jessica Rekos, 6, reportedly became fascinated with orcas last year after watching the movie “Free Willy” and spent time researching them.
The Orca Conservancy, Free Willy-Keiko Foundation and the Pacific Whale Watch Association sent out a press release with an unusual request.
“Jessica will never get a chance to see an orca in the wild, but we have an extraordinary opportunity here in the Pacific Northwest to honor her and her dream. Let’s name our next baby orca, ‘Jessica,’” the groups said.
Orcas in Puget Sound and the Straits are normally designated with the letters J, K or L – the names of their pods – followed by a number. Those designations are usually given by the Center for Whale Research.
But, the groups say other organizations often will give actual names for these whales. Recent local orca celebrities include Keiko and Springer.
“There’s no more appropriate thing that we can do out here than this,” said Brian Goodremont, U.S. President of the PWWA. “I’m sure that we would’ve seen Jessica one day on one of our boats. And I’m sure that experience would’ve encouraged her to pursue a career in marine biology or some other lifelong commitment to helping whales. If we can name one of these baby orcas after Jessica, every time we see that baby out here, we’ll be able to tell kids and parents her story.”