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Tilikum To Iceland (cont.)

November 26, 2013
Sigfus: "He caught me from behind!"

Sigfus: “He caught me from behind!”

The chatter about whether someone has filed for a permit to return Tilikum to Icelandic waters continues. I don’t for a minute believe that SeaWorld is in any way involved. And if any sort of permit request was in fact filed (I’m trying to confirm that) then I strongly suspect that someone is spoofing the Ministry Of Fisheries, or it has nothing to do with Tilikum.

More interesting to me is this report about all the rumors (sent to me by Elizabeth Batt). The details of Tilikum’s experience in captivity in Iceland during the many months before he was shipped to SeaLand of the Pacific have always been sparse. So this is worth noting, and adding to our understanding of this early chapter of Tilikum’s story:

Tilikum was captured by the Icelandic coast in 1983 and kept at the Aquarium in Hafnarfjörður to begin with.

There, Sigfús Halldórsson began the animal’s training. Sigfús is now a computer scientist and lives in England, but remembers Tilikum very well.

Tilikum was being prepped for transport to Canada when Sigfús started training him and was the smallest one of three killer whales kept at the aquarium.

Sigfús fed Tilikum on herring and had failed a few attempts to lure the animal into another pool. Eventually, it was decided upon to move Tilikum with an overhead crane.

“I foolishly jumped into the pool to remove the rail between the two pools and he must have been mad about being separated from the other two killer whales because he caught me from behind and pulled me underwater. He tore a big piece from the back of my wetsuit but I managed somehow to get out of the pool,” Sigfús told Ví

He added that apart from that incident, Tilikum was normally sweet-tempered. “He was my friend, I often put my arm into his mouth to scratch his tongue; he liked that. He was normally very sweet except for that one time he got angry.”

Those were the cowboy days. My guess is that, in retrospect, Sigfus must think he is pretty lucky guy to have emerged from the “one time he got angry” fully intact.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Gina Powell permalink
    November 26, 2013 11:15 am

    All wild caught captive orcas have one thing in common: they were taken AGAINST THEIR WILL from their families. Since orcas have a highly developed brain, socialization is a huge part of their existence. Taking any animal away from their Mother is devastating, but especially for orcas. The story of Tilikum is so sad. He was literally stripped from his Mother’s side crying and fighting. Imagine being taken from the vast cold waters of Iceland to a small enclosure as a prisoner doing tricks for food. You don’t need to be a genius to see how wrong this is. Some sort of psychosis will develop. Further, all orcas are top predators of the sea. This is instinct. One could argue that Tilikum’s attacks on his trainers (both fatal and non-fatal) are a result of frustration, his predatory instinct, or both. If you agree with either of these possibilities then you can only arrive at one conclusion: orca’s are not meant for captivity. They are not meant to swim in a concrete enclosure doing tricks for food. It is totally against their make-up.
    Tilikum now spends his life “logging” at the surface of his small area wasting his life away. Contrast this to a wild bull orca swimming up to 100 miles a day, in straight lines, with beautiful dorsal fins. He would have spend the rest of his life by his Mother’s side occasionally leaving to mate or feed. Tilikum would have been swimming free as nature intended him to do.
    Instead, he is the property of SeaWorld. He is a captive prisoner performing tricks for food. SeaWorld makes money off his appearance, sperm or whatever else they deem profitable and it is all done at Tilikum’s expense. Make no doubt about it Tilikum is dying to splash your kids for a few minutes at the end of a show.
    Is it worth it? Don’t buy a ticket. Please don’t support this cruelty to animals.

  2. Michele Jankelow permalink
    November 26, 2013 12:36 pm

    I hope that somewhere out there the possibility will exist that Tilikum would be returned to his native waters. The sea pen that housed Keiko must surely still be in tact for the transitional phase and then hopefully and with great soul, dignity and time, Tilikum will be returned home at last!

  3. November 26, 2013 2:57 pm

    Please let this beautiful creature go to Iceland to the sea pen, He has suffered to
    no end

  4. Louise Reed permalink
    November 26, 2013 4:48 pm

    How can he survive without teeth?

    • November 26, 2013 4:55 pm

      He can’t. He’s not releasable to the wild. But he could live in a sea pen, though I don’t think that is at all in his future.

      • November 26, 2013 5:44 pm

        A sea pen is better than a concrete pool. I want to do more to help this to happen for him and the other orcas. Tilikum is on my mind every day.

  5. November 27, 2013 11:59 am

    Sigfus doesn’t get that a young orca would have no idea as to what humans can or can’t do: including how long humans can or can’t be underwater. (I go into that in detail within the analysis of the 3 accidental deaths associated with Tilikum – available for free for anyone via hello-at-qualia-publishing-dot-com … an analysis Tim hasn’t “had the time to read”.). Orcas are social. Getting into the pool was an invitation to play. A suit grab would be a normal part of play for a young orca. – Tracy E. L. Poured

    • February 28, 2016 7:49 pm
  6. natalie wollaston permalink
    August 6, 2014 8:11 pm

    I sign petition after petition everyday in the hope that one day this majestic being will be given some sort of freedom. I read about him daily and am despairing as I don’t know what else it is I can do to help. Please can somebody advise me with regards to any updates or impacts these petitions are having. I think about Tilikum every day also and cannot do so without a heavy heart and tears in my eyes.


  1. Tilikum To Iceland Rumor Explained | Tim Zimmermann

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