Project Description


Size: up to 8 metres
Weight: up to 8 tonnes
Speed: up to 50 km/hour

Killer whales, also known as orca, are the largest member of the dolphin family.

The famous killer whale, Keiko was captured in Icelandic waters in 1979. After performing in marine parks Keiko became a film star in the 1993 movie Free Willy and he was eventually reintroduced to the wild in Icelandic waters in 1998. Another famous killer whale, Tilikum who was heavily featured in the documentary Blackfish (, was captured in Iceland in 1983 to perform in marine parks. Since 1988 no killer whales have been captured in Icelandic waters.

Given their social behaviour killer whales are not at all suited for captivity. In the wild, killer whales have a global distribution and live in large, family groups called pods, which stay together for life and may develop their own unique dialect. In captivity, dorsal fins may collapse due to stress, however, a male orca that is not in captivity has a dorsal fin that can grow as tall as 1.8 metres.

Killer whales are commonly seen on whale watching tours in west of Iceland in winter months (November/December to March/April) and early summer (April/May to June/July). They regularly seen south of Reykjanes peninsula and around Westman Islands in summer as well but there are no scheduled whale watching tours run in the area. Occasionally they’re seen on other areas through out the year.