DOC staff and volunteers caring for the orca
Image: Leon Berard | DOC

Introduction

DOC led a 12-day operation to care for an orca calf that stranded on rocks near Wellington on Sunday, 11 July 2021.

Date:  24 July 2021

What happened

A juvenile orca became stranded on rocks near Plimmerton on Sunday afternoon, 11 July. Less than 3 m long, the calf was thought to be three to six months old.

A joint operation to care for the orca calf was led by DOC with support from Orca Research Trust, Whale Rescue Trust, local iwi Ngāti Toa Rangatira, and the local community.

The goal was to return the calf to its natal pod.

Unfortunately, after 12 days of care, the orca calf deteriorated and died on the night of Friday 23 July.

The calf was farewelled on Saturday 24 July at a dawn ceremony.

Timeline

8:30 am, Saturday 24 July

Amid karakia and waiata, the orca calf known as Toa was farewelled by around 70 people at Plimmerton Boating Club at dawn this morning before being taken for burial by Ngāti Toa Rangatira.

Media release: Orca calf Toa farewelled with dawn ceremony

10 pm, Friday 23 July

Despite a massive community effort to save the orca calf known as Toa, he has tonight died in the sea pen at Plimmerton Boating Club.

Media release: Orca calf Toa loses fight for survival

5 pm, Friday 23 July

A reported sighting of an orca pod on the Kāpiti Coast is being investigated by air and sea, while the orca calf remains stable at the Plimmerton Boating Club.

Media release: Orca update

11 am, Friday 23 July

The orca calf at Plimmerton Boating Club is responding well to being back in the sea pen, while efforts to find the stranded calf’s pod will ramp up through a fine weather window.

Media release: Orca update

5 pm, Thursday 22 July

A decision has been made to move the orca calf being held at a temporary pool at Plimmerton Boating Club back into the sea pen.

Media release: Orca update

10:30 am, Thursday 22 July

There was no change overnight for the orca calf at Plimmerton Boating Club, with the next steps to be determined by the weather forecast.

Media release: Orca update

4:15 pm, Wednesday 21 July

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.

Media release: Orca Update

11 am, Wednesday 21 July

The stranded orca calf remains in a stable condition but onsite veterinarians are continuing to monitor some health concerns.

Media release: Orca update

5:30 pm, Tuesday 20 July

Sightings of orca in the Wellington region made earlier today have been investigated, but searches by boat and air have not been able to locate a pod.

Media release: Orca update

10:30 am, Tuesday 20 July

With favourable weather conditions and credible sightings reported, the focus of today is the search for the juvenile orca’s pod in and around Wellington.

Sightings were reported this morning at Seatoun and Makara.

Media release: Orca update

5 pm, Monday 19 July

An investigation is underway into a pod that has been sighted in the Marlborough Sounds.

The orca will not be moved back into the sea pen today. 

Media release: Orca update

11 am, Monday 19 July

The Porirua site where a stranded juvenile orca is being cared for in a temporary pool remains closed to the public today for safety reasons.

DOC and its operation partners are hopeful that the orca can be transferred back to the sea pen late this afternoon, weather dependent.

Media release: Orca update

2 pm, Sunday 18 July

Current weather and marine conditions are too rough to investigate yesterday’s orca pod sighting further, but will be reassessed throughout the day.

Media release: Orca update

6 pm, Saturday 17 July

A credible sighting of a pod of orca has been reported off the Kapiti Coast, near where the juvenile orca stranded last Sunday, but weather conditions in the area make it unsafe for further investigation.

Media release: Orca pod sighted off Wellington Coast

4:30 pm, Friday 16 July

The Porirua site where a stranded juvenile orca is being cared for in a temporary pool remains closed to the public for safety reasons as weather conditions worsen.

Media release: 4.30pm update on stranded juvenile orca in Porirua

11 am, Friday 16 July

The Porirua site where a stranded orca calf is being cared for has been cleared and closed to the public for safety reasons and to ensure the welfare of the calf as weather conditions worsen.

Media release: 11am update on stranded juvenile orca in Porirua

4:30 pm, Thursday, 15 July

A portable pool will be brought on site as contingency planning continues for bad weather at the location north of Wellington where a stranded orca calf is being cared for.

Media release: 4:30pm update on stranded juvenile orca in Porirua

11:30 am, Thursday 15 July

Preparation for deteriorating weather and sea conditions is the focus of efforts at the site north of Wellington today (15 July), where a stranded orca calf is being kept in a temporary pen and cared for by rescuers.

Media release: 11:30am update on stranded juvenile orca in Porirua

5 pm, Wednesday 14 July

Efforts to reunite a stranded orca calf with its pod have continued today (14 July), with a new reported sighting of an orca pod off the coast of Taranaki.

Media release: 5pm update on stranded juvenile orca in Porirua

12:30 pm, Wednesday 14 July

The search for a pod of orca off the Wellington coast has resumed today (14 July) as work continues to reunite a stranded orca calf with its family.

Media release: 12:30pm update on stranded juvenile orca in Porirua

6:30 pm, Tuesday 13 July

The orca calf at the centre of a rescue effort in Plimmerton near Wellington remains stable tonight (Tuesday, 13 July) after specialist veterinary treatment.

Media release: 6pm update on stranded juvenile orca in Porirua

2 pm, Tuesday 13 July

Efforts to save the orca calf stranded at Plimmerton are continuing today (13 July), with DOC working alongside Whale Rescue and volunteers.

Media release: New update on stranded juvenile orca in Porirua

5 pm, Monday 12 July

Efforts to save a juvenile orca stranded in Porirua near Wellington have continued today, with the animal returned to the water near where it was found.

Media release: Update on stranded juvenile orca in Porirua

Contact

For media enquiries contact:

Email: media@doc.govt.nz

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