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The ilu is a large, plesiosaur-like sea creature that is the direhorse of the Pandoran oceans, fulfilling a biological role similar to that of a Terran dolphin or pinnaped.

Anatomy and Behavior[]

The ilu is a sleek and lithe aquatic reptilian specimen with a long flexible neck, six flippers and rudder-like tail, closely resembling Earth's extinct plesiosaurs. It possesses four eyes and two queues, antennae-like neural whips extending from its temples. It is most observed with dark coloration on its upper body splotched with colorful markings and a white underbelly. Despite living underwater, the ilu breathes air, similar to Terran dolphins and whales.

The ilu has special etholocation organs which it uses for communication.[2]

Its top speed is 32 knots (37 mph/60kph).[2]

Use by the Na'vi[]

Avatar The Way of Water 03

Kiri riding an ilu

The ilu is intelligent, sociable, and easily domesticated. It serves as mount for the reef clans, including the Metkayina and Ta'unui, just as direhorses serve the Na'vi clans of the forests and plains. They are as common in the ocean as ikran are in the sky and can be found in groups near the settlements of oceanic Na'vi clans. Unlike Ikrans, ilu do not form personal bonds with a particular Na’vi. If an ilu has been familiarized with the concept of a Kuru bond, any rider can mount that ilu.


  • The ilu's body was inspired by the manta ray while its neck was inspired by the Plesiosaurus.[3]
  • There is a deleted scene of Neytiri struggling to ride an ilu. Ronal tells Neytiri to focus on the kuru bond and not treat the ilu like an ikran, rather than trying to hold the ilu as strongly as possible. Neytiri claims she knows how the bond works and fails again.
  • The ilu appears in the Pandora: The World of Avatar attraction "Flight of Passage" during a banshee flight. Several ilu swim past the group at once, quickly cutting through the waves and leaping like dolphins.



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