Keiko in Norway
Keiko relaxing in Skålvikfjorden (The Skaalvik Fjord)
Leaving Icelandic waters at the end of July 2002, the "Free Willy" movie star Keiko arrived in Skålvikfjorden on the first day of September.
This created some headlines here and elsewhere. Some of our "experts" voiced that the most humane thing would be to kill the animal (and give the meat to poor people). And Brigitte Bardot wrote the Norwegian Crown Princess pleading for Keiko's safety! Later various local authorities have been trying to convince everybody that Keiko would be best off in their fjord.
In the meantime those people taking care of Keiko hired a boat and stayed in Skålvikfjorden.
Most of the time Keiko waits near the boat – for food, I suppose.
Only feeding induces activity.
Keiko needs exercise, therefore the boat takes a trip on the fjord, Keiko following unseen.
November 2002: Skålvikfjorden may freeze over during the winter, therefore Keiko has been guided to the main fjord where the boat has been stationed at Taknes. Both harbors are in the Halsa municipality. This fjord is visited by wild orcas when the herring arrive some time during the winter. Nobody knows, Keiko might stay here for years, even for the rest of his life. There will (might?) be facilities for spectators, but don't expect anything fancy.
February 2003: The herring and the wild orcas are arriving, and Keiko will be encouraged to join the party.
April 2003: Wrong, the herring didn't arrive and the wild orcas didn't arrive, so Keiko will stay with his human friends for at least another year.
May 20, 2003: We visited Taknes, but Keiko just floated far out there. So I can only offer you a picture of the environment (1024×768).
December 12, 2003: Keiko (27) died, probably of pneumonia.
December 16, 2003: In the middle of the dark December night they buried Keiko on land close to the shore where he spent his last year, finishing at two o'clock in the morning of the fifteenth. The local authorities decided today that on January 8, 2004 the children in the community will be invited there to collect stones from the seashore and build a cairn as a memorial for Keiko.
June 1, 2004, in the evening: Keiko's grave at Taknes and a "cairn" made by the children of Halsa. Originally the children were to collect stones from the beach, but unfortunately this wasn't possible because the tide was high, somebody had forgotten to consult the almanac. So the children brought stones from home, many of them decorated like the one below, from Ecuador!.
June 25, 2008 – four years later – the Keiko grave revisited. The heap of stones has grown.
September 30, 2010 – a roadsign. Keiko's grave has become a tourist attraction. Distance 3 kilometers on a narrow gravel road.
If you would really like to see wild killer whales, go to Tysfjord south of Narvik in Northern Norway, where some 600 of them gather every autumn. Orca Tysfjord and Arctic Encounters arranges whale (watch) safaris between the middle of October and the middle of January. Bring clothes for frost, rain, and snow. You might also wish to pray for good weather. Extra bonuses are the aurora during the long nights and fantastic sceneries whenever there is enough light. The sun will be below the horizon from early December till about a week into January, but there will be several hours of twilight.
Whale safaris in Northern Norway are also arranged during the summer. You might try for example Whalesafari or Island Adventure in Vesterålen, all in the same region northwest of Narvik. Depending on your luck you might be able to watch several species of whales including orcas. And seals, seabirds and fishermen. And the midnight sun (late May till middle of July in this region).
(This is not a paid advertisement. I never went on a whale safari myself, just thought you might be interested.)