Anyone who has ever visited Sea World San Diego knows exactly who Ulises is.

He is SeaWorld San Diego’s largest killer whale (also known as Orcinus orca or “orca”), weighing almost 10,000 pounds, and is best known for splashing water with his massive tail flukes on our guests far beyond the Soak Zone at Shamu Stadium! Everything about Ulises is huge. His pectoral flippers are the size of table tops and his dorsal fin towers over most trainers. Although, despite his size, he is incredibly athletic. He can jump exceptionally high lifting his body completely out of the water, but he also has a very timid side to his personality.

Ulises is estimated to be 39 years old and came to SeaWorld in 1994 from the Barcelona Zoo in Barcelona Spain. While at the zoo in Barcelona, Ulises lived with bottlenose dolphins for quite some time. As he lived with dolphins, he began to develop some dolphin vocalization patterns. Upon his arrival at SeaWorld, he integrated nicely into our killer whale family and learned very quickly how to vocalize like an orca. Ulises eventually even participated in important hearing studies, and scientists have discovered that over time he had taught the younger male killer whales a dialect that only they use together.

I have worked with this awesome whale, which we’ve nicknamed “Uli” or the “Big Dog,” for decade now, and I’ve learned many of his likes. Because of his size, he eats a lot of fish – 150 to 200 pounds a day depending on the time of year – but, he also enjoys eating big cubes of ice.

In December 2014, Ulises became a first time dad, as the sire of Amaya. Ulises, Amaya and her mother Kalia, routinely spend time together. Ulises also enjoys spending time with our younger males and with Shouka, a 22-year-old female that came to Sea World San Diego in 2012. He is a very good-natured whale, and getting to understand his gentle personality has been an incredible experience. I am truly honored to have built an especially strong bond and relationship with Ulises.

-John, Supervisor of Animal Training

Quick Facts

  • Estimated to be 39 years old
  • Male
  • Weighs 9,590 pounds
  • Measures 20 feet long
  • Distinguishing Physical Characteristics: easily recognizable as SeaWorld San Diego’s largest killer whale
  • Research involved in: audiogram (hearing) study, photographic assessment of body shape changes study

John, Supervisor of Animal Training


I began my career in 2000, and for the past 10 years I’ve trained the killer whales here at SeaWorld San Diego.