Date: 29 July 2016
There is no sign of the young orca’s family group and it appears to have been separated from its pod for well over a week.
DOC’s Operations Manager Jeff Milham says the young whale is swimming freely but losing condition and needs to be reunited with its family group as soon as possible.
However he says there have been no sightings of any orca pods in the area and there are no indications where the young whale has come from.
Jeff Milham says DOC has been working with iwi, marine mammal specialists from the United States along with local orca experts, including researcher Dr Ingrid Visser, on how to deal with this difficult situation.
He says specialists are advising DOC to take a precautionary approach and avoid any actions that will stress the young animal or unintentionally prevent its return to its family pod.
He says DOC is asking boat owners and members of the public to keep away from the whale.
“The best hope for this young whale is for it to be reunited with its family pod – we’ll continue to monitor the animal and look for any practical solution to what is a very unique and challenging situation."
The killer whale/orca is the largest member of the dolphin family. New Zealand is home to an estimated 150–200 individuals, which travel long distances throughout the country’s coastal waters. Orca are typically encountered in family groups or pods, which usually form for life.
It is an offence to swim within 100 m of an orca, and vessels should stay at least 50 m away.
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