In Spanish whales are “ballenas” (pronounced ba-YEH-nas in Spain).
When we did the whale watching cruise in Samaná, Dominican Republic, earlier this month, with a terrific Canadian marine biologist named Kim leading the boat, it sounded like she said “vajena”. As in vajayjay.
Though it actually makes sense with the local dialect (her gringo accent notwithstanding):
– a “b” and “v” are almost interchangeable (in fact you even see a town Veron spelled as Beron sometimes on the side of taxis)
– an “ll” is pronounced like a j (as opposed to a y or “lli” as in million)
– the “s” at the end of the word is dropped in the D.R.
So it sounds over the loudspeaker like “the vajayjay dives at regular intervals” <snickers>