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Stranded Juvenile Orca Update

Stranded Juvenile Orca Update

Posted July 21, 2021
Environmental

Media Release: Department of Conservation

The predicted persistence of poor weather has meant that there will be no change for the orca calf being cared for at Plimmerton Boating Club and it is likely to remain in the temporary pool for at least another day. The young orca has now been in our care for 10 days.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) Marine Species Manager, Ian Angus, says the veterinarians have done their regular health assessments and some of the previous health issues are no longer a cause for concern.

“While the calf remains in the temporary pool, people are reminded that the welfare of the calf is uppermost, and the public are advised to stay away so that staff and volunteers can focus on looking after the calf. Weather conditions are continually being reassessed,” Ian Angus says.

“We want to minimise the potential for stress for the calf and with poor weather predicted until at least Friday, we have to be disciplined in our approach to managing the calf,” he says.

Any sightings of orca around the country should be reported to DOC HOT 0800 362 468 or via marinemammals@doc.govt.nz. If the pod is in the lower north island or Marlborough region, this would give the best chance of successful reunification.

“Our focus now is on finding the specific pod the orca calf has come from. We will try to verify the pod based on the markings of the orca, so any photographs people can provide with reported sightings will help immensely.

“We are still planning for a range of scenarios. While the orca’s health is still stable, we are also being realistic as we consider the ongoing welfare of this animal – that has to be our number one concern.”

Veterinarians are onsite day and night and continue to carry out health checks on the animal.

The site remains closed to the public to reduce stress for the orca calf.

Last Sunday (11 July), the orca calf was stranded on rocks near Plimmerton, north of Wellington. An ongoing operation to care for the orca calf is being led by DOC with support from Orca Research Trust/Whale Rescue Trust, local iwi Ngāti Toa Rangatira, and the local community.

DOC, veterinarians, and Whale Rescue/Orca Research Trust are receiving regular advice from international orca experts and veterinarians – information proving vital as decisions are made.