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VIMS announces choices in osprey-naming contest

  • Winning names
    Winning names
    Meet Bridgette (L) and Coleman (R), named after the Coleman Bridge, a regional landmark.
    Image courtesy of VIMS OspreyCam
Covington woman’s suggestion plays off local landmark

The suggested names came from history (John Smith and Pocahontas), science (Pan and Halie), and pop culture (Elvis and Gaga). But in the end, a local landmark won out. The chosen names for the pair of breeding ospreys featured on the OspreyCam at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science are Coleman and Bridgette.

The winning names were first suggested by Gwen Gorham of Covington, in far western Virginia, who says, “They seemed appropriate given the nest’s proximity to the Coleman Bridge.” Several others suggested the names as well.

The Coleman Bridge is a regional landmark that is adjacent to and closely associated with Gloucester Point, Yorktown, and VIMS. The bridge replaced the ferries that once operated from the Ferry Pier on what is now the VIMS campus.

Gorham says her family—now four generations strong—has been spending their summers on Chesapeake Bay for more than 40 years, enjoying “sailing small boats, camping, crabbing, fishing, birding, and all the wonderfulness the Bay has to offer.” She notes that  “watching the bird life, especially the ospreys” is “our year-round pleasure. One pair always nests on the swinging bridge to Gwynn’s island...truly a mobile home!”

The winning names are the result of an online survey that allowed individuals to choose from a list of names provided by VIMS or suggest names of their own. The provided names were based on geographic and cultural features surrounding Gloucester Point, and on the osprey’s scientific name Pandion haliaetus.

In a second and final round of voting, faculty, staff, and students at VIMS chose from four pairs of popular and inventive names from the survey. In addition to Coleman and Bridgette, the pairs were Mobjack and Gwynn (after nearby Mobjack Bay and Gwynn’s Island), William and Maryus (the latter a small locality in Gloucester County), and York and Virginia (after the nearby York River, and, of course, the Old Dominion).

David Malmquist, Director of Communications at VIMS and head of the Osprey Naming Committee, says the group liked Gorham’s imaginative play on the name of the bridge.

“We also liked that the name of the bridge itself incorporates several of the historical elements considered in other proposed and suggested osprey names,” says Malmquist. The bridge honors George P. Coleman, head of the Virginia Highway Commission in the early 1900s. Coleman was the great-grandson of St. George Tucker, who studied law at the College of William and Mary under George Wythe. Wythe also instructed Thomas Jefferson and signed the Declaration of Independence.

A number of the suggested names reflected on this rich history of the Tidewater area—from Colonial to more recent. They included King and Queen, Duke and Duchess, Patrick and Henrietta, Revolution and Freedom, George and Martha, and Nick and Mary (after the Matthews, former proprietors of Nick’s Seafood Pavilion in Yorktown). Other respondents suggested calling the male osprey Davis, after VIMS' founder Donald W. Davis, and Bill, after long-time VIMS director William Hargis, Jr.

Other names were from pop culture past and present, including Sherlock and Gwendolyn (The Painful Predicament 
of Sherlock Holmes), Fred and Ethel (I Love Lucy), Ozzie and Harriet (1950s ABC sitcom), Pink and Floyd (the band), Mork and Mindy (1970s ABC sitcom), Prince Adam and Princess Adora (Mattel’s She-Ra: Princess of Power), Mulder and Scully (The X Files), Sharon and Ozzy (MTV’s The Osbournes), Tobias and Mrs. Featherbottom (Fox’s Arrested Development), and Edward and Bella (theTwilight Series).

Finally, some names defy easy categorization: Grandole Osprey, Eddy and Flow, Flotsam and Jetsam, Splish and Splash, Bubba and Darlin’, and Che and Chichina. Respondent Ruth Taylor suggested “Rory” and “Alice” (forAurora Borealis, the northern lights), because “together they make a great show.”

Gorham looks forward to watching that ongoing show, noting, “We were pleased to find the VIMS OspreyCam after getting hooked on a Maryland site last year. It’s awesome to watch the nesting progress from beginning to end. Now we eagerly await the first egg. Is the next contest to name the chicks? Let's see…I'm working on it.”