After the film's release, millions of moviegoers called the number shown at the end of the movie where $20 million was donated for the Save the Whales Foundation.
This film brought the living conditions of the star orca, Keiko (Willy) to the world's attention. His tank was too small, with too-warm chlorinated artificial salt water. Keiko suffered from a weakened immune system and a skin condition around his pectoral fins. There was a monumental effort to release Keiko. A custom tank was built in the Oregon Coast Aquarium and in 1996, the whale was flown from Mexico to Oregon. He recovered well, and was moved to a sea pen in 1998. In July 2002, Keiko was released into the wild after spending 22 years in captivity. Unfortunately he did not fully adapt to the wild and died in December 2003 in Norway. Keiko became the second oldest orca to live in captivity.
Jack Nicholson turned down the role of the villain Dial, considering the pay to be too low.
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