EDITOR'S NOTE: The Indianapolis Zoo announced in September 2012 that the name for the new dolphin calf, Orin, was inspired by the Atlantean name for Aquaman. The Zoo's Marine Mammal staff chose the name because the young calf displayed great strength. The choice sparked some social media buzz among fans of the comic books. Peter David, who created the Orin character as part of the DC Comics series “The Atlantis Chronicles,” caught wind of it and contacted the Zoo to express his excitement. At the Zoo's request, David wrote the following blog detailing the origins of his character as well as his thoughts on our name choice.
Many years ago, I was writing a comic book series for DC Comics, the esteemed publishers of “Aquaman.” Set against thousands of years worth of history, it was designed to tell the definitive story of Atlantis, or at least Atlantis as how it existed within the DC Universe.
One of the first things I had to do was come up with a name for the previously never-met gentleman who was emperor of the most famous city in history at the time when it actually sank — in my story, as a result of a meteor striking the planet. He had to have a name, of course. I wanted it to be a good name, a strong name. I wasn’t thinking about “memorable” per se. “Unusual” would be sufficient. So I started doing some good, old fashioned, pre-Internet research.
So now it’s several decades later and, using the trusty Internet, I tried to re-create the means with which I decided that his name should be Orin. I would love to tell you that I managed to trace my steps, but I have not. My recollection is that Orin was a name having to do with river gods. The current meanings I’ve found ascribed to the name (with various spellings in assorted nationalities) include “pale green,” “pale white,” and “pine tree.”
Consequently, I have no real proof of how I came up with deciding that this particular name should be ascribed to an Atlantean emperor born several thousand years ago. But I did. And at the end of the comic book miniseries, the name is reused once again, given to a blond haired infant who was abandoned at birth, raised by dolphins, and eventually wound up being raised by a human named Arthur Curry. The rest of the world would eventually know him as Aquaman. “Orin” would be of much more limited use, but the fans knew it to be his real name.
And now, for reasons I don’t begin to claim to understand, “Orin” is now the name of a young dolphin at the Indianapolis Zoo, with the fine folks at that center declaring that Aquaman was the origin of the name. I have to say that I could not be more proud of this “real world” usage of the name, and hope that at some point I’m actually able to make it out there and visit with the namesake of centuries worth of Atlantean noblemen.
Comic book writer