Tobba Keiko Session1

Killer Whale Brings Delegate to EUROPEA Conference

December 18, 2014
By: Nicolas Negretti

Everyone has a story to tell so they say but Þorbjörg “Tobba” Kristjansdottir from Iceland has one that has already been made into a blockbuster film. ‘Free Willy’ has delighted families for a generation with its tale of Keiko the Killer While making a break for freedom in the ocean with help from an all-American boy.

Tobba using her teaching skills on a whale (Keiko to be precise)!
Tobba using her teaching skills on a whale (Keiko to be precise)!

In reality Keiko was shipped to Iceland in a USAF cargo plane where Tobba was tasked with helping to rehabilitate the whale back into the wild after years of captivity. She was successful just as the funding was running out, getting Keiko to follow a pod of Orcas on their spring migration to the Norwegian coast.

On arrival however, Keiko stopped to investigate the human boating activity and lost contact with the pod, so Tobba moved to Norway to rejoin her bond with Keiko and continue the rehabilitation process.

After 18 months Keiko fell ill with suspected pneumonia, and beached ashore, thereby ending a life followed by many adoring fans who never stopped sending letters of encouragement.
For the family of EUROPEA the story has bought a bonus with the introduction of Tobba, adding life and vitality to our meeting particularly with her storytelling around the campfire. While not a saga just yet, there is clearly a long way to go in the relationship between Iceland and its EUROPEA partners. Many an exciting project hopefully awaits…



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