He was seen diving among the wild orcas only once, on 30 July 2002. And after physical contact at the surface, Keiko swam away, seeking out human company on the tracking boat.
"When Keiko arrived in Norway, he actively sought out human company, swimming to boats and people," say the researchers. "After a few days, he became inactive, staying near a small boat, possibly to avoid the large and steadily increasing crowd of people now seeking his attention."
Local authorities forbade people from approaching or touching him, and his trainers – who thought he may have caught an infection from his human admirers – eventually took him back to Iceland. "At that time there was a crowd of people very close to Keiko," says Simon. "All the kids of the town wanted to touch him and swim with him."
With encouragement from his carers, Keiko's activity levels increased to previous levels, but although he lived in a pen that was open to the ocean, he never again ventured outside the bay. A year after his failed migration, Keiko died at the age of 26 or 27, apparently of pneumonia.
Journal reference: Marine Mammal Science (DOI: 10.1111/j.1748-7692.2009.00287.x)