The Free Willy

The Free Willy. This is one of the show that I still remembered now since I watched it as a young kid. The touching story of the bond between a little boy and a killer whale makes me want to see a real killer whale when I grow up and to see their magnificent aerial displays. Ocinus orca, commonly known as orcas or killer whales, are known to be intelligent creature living in a complex social structure. One of the most common place for orca watching will be Canada. I am lucky enough to went there for exchange and I definitely did not waste the chance to fulfil my childhood dream. In fact, I saw more than one orca, I chanced upon one of the bigger gathering of orcas during my trip. It was an amazing experience for me and I will never forget how the killer whales jumped right in front of me. My next goal will be to kayak in the waters with the killer whales like the man seen in the video below.

However, have you ever wonder why does the killer whales perform such aerial display such as “spyhopping” or “breaching? Is it really just a “performance” for us to see? Some people suggest that it may really be for that reason! Killer whales may well be just socializing or being playful around us. On the other hand, some researches showed that it may actually be trying to remove parasites by leaping off the waters or even as a hunting technique.

Although rarely documented, killer whales are seen using some of their aerial techniques to hunt some of their food such as seals which can be on the surface rather than in the water. We can see clearly a sophisticated hunting technique in the youtube link below:

Overall, it seems that aerial behaviours are still not well-documented and thus it may not be surprising to find out that these amazing animals actually make use of these behaviours for various reasons.


“Amazing Orca Dolphins leap from the water – Deadly 60 series 2 – BBC”, by BBCEarth Youtube Channel, 3 March 2013. URL: (accessed on 10 April 2013)

Bernd, W., & Hal, W. (2009). Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals (Second Edition). Academic Press.

Orca Free. (n.d.). How do they have fun? Retrieved April 10, 2013, from Orca

Untamed and Uncut: Orcas attack seal”, by Animal Planet Youtube Channel, 8 August 2008. URL: (accessed on 10 April 2013)

“The Free Willy”, by Warner Bros. Warner Bros, URL: (accessed 10 April 2013)