Pair of Potomac River dolphins flipping out over new names

You probably wouldn’t want to go through life being called D1 or D2, and now two dolphins in the Potomac River don’t have to, either.

The two dolphins are henceforth known as Mac and Chessie, thanks to the results of a naming contest run by the Potomac Conservancy and the Potomac-Chesapeake Dolphin Project.

The names, of course, refer to the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay, and the direct approach was the clear favorite among voters, garnering 27% of the more than 1,400 votes, and easily outpacing second-place Cherry and Blossom, which got 16%, the conservancy said in a statement.

The contest was opened last month with public nominations; the two groups then picked the 10 finalists and put them up for the public vote, which closed June 14. 

Also receiving votes:

  • Ebb and Flow, 14%
  • Powhatan and Piscataway, 10%
  • Echo and Radar, 10%
  • Rachel Carson and Sylvia Earle, 8%
  • Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass, 6%
  • Madeleine Paddlin’ Albright & Colin Divin’ Powell, 5%
  • Benjamin Banneker and Pierre L’Enfant, 1%
  • Aldo Leopold and Wendell Berry, 1%

There are more dolphins in the Potomac than you might think — the conservancy said more than 1,000 have been sighted in the Potomac and the Chesapeake Bay, and they’ve started to have babies.

And, while they’re not exactly frolicking behind the Lincoln Memorial — Mac and Chessie are around the mouth of the river — as humanity cleans up its act (and the waters of the Potomac), they have occasionally been seen as far north as the Harry Nice Bridge.

In the 1880s, the conservancy said dolphins were living up around Alexandria, Virginia.

Most of the dolphins are around the mouth of the river, but as the Potomac gets cleaner, they’re starting to head north – some have been sighted near the Harry Nice Bridge. The conservancy’s site said that in the 1880s dolphins were once seen all the way up in Alexandria. (NMFS Permit No. 19403)
Most of the dolphins are around the mouth of the river, but as the Potomac gets cleaner, they’re starting to head north — some have been sighted near the Harry Nice Bridge. The conservancy’s site said that in the 1880s dolphins were once seen all the way up in Alexandria. (NMFS Permit No. 19403) (NMFS Permit No. 19403)
The Potomac-Chesapeake Dolphin Project and the Potomac Conservancy are looking for the public’s ideas on what to name two of the more than 1,000 dolphins that have been sighted in the Potomac and the Chesapeake Bay. (NMFS Permit No. 19403)
The Potomac-Chesapeake Dolphin Project and the Potomac Conservancy were looking for the public’s ideas on what to name two of the more than 1,000 dolphins that have been sighted in the Potomac and the Chesapeake Bay. (NMFS Permit No. 19403) (NMFS Permit No. 19403)
The Potomac dolphins are even having babies. (NMFS Permit No. 19403)
Some of the Potomac dolphins are even having babies. (NMFS Permit No. 19403) (NMFS Permit No. 19403)
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Most of the dolphins are around the mouth of the river, but as the Potomac gets cleaner, they’re starting to head north – some have been sighted near the Harry Nice Bridge. The conservancy’s site said that in the 1880s dolphins were once seen all the way up in Alexandria. (NMFS Permit No. 19403)
The Potomac-Chesapeake Dolphin Project and the Potomac Conservancy are looking for the public’s ideas on what to name two of the more than 1,000 dolphins that have been sighted in the Potomac and the Chesapeake Bay. (NMFS Permit No. 19403)
The Potomac dolphins are even having babies. (NMFS Permit No. 19403)

Previous statements from the conservancy have included dolphin-related puns, and Friday’s related the news that the pair were “dolphin-ately in love with their new names.”

So, there’s that.

You can find out more about the dolphins, and about what the other naming possibilities referred to, on the conservancy’s website.

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