Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


DOC, local iwi and the Orca Research Trust met today to discuss how best to deal with a young orca detached from its family pod off the coast of the Bay of Plenty.

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 Tauranga-based 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.

“Everyone at the meeting agreed that reuniting the lone orca calf with its family pod is the key to its long term survival in the wild.”

“The difficulty we all face is finding the young orca’s family pod as there have been no indications where the calf has come from,” says Jeff Milham.

“This means we have no way of knowing how long it will take to find the family pod.”  

“Meanwhile we know that without the support of its pod the young orca’s condition is deteriorating.”

To address these two key issues the meeting agreed to form a tactical group with representatives from DOC, local iwi, the Orca Research Trust - including Dr Ingrid Visser and American orca specialist Jeff Foster - and key community stakeholders.

The group held its first meeting this afternoon and agreed to some key actions to address the orca’s core issues. It agreed to explore measures that may enable the orca to survive on its own and to explore ways of locating the young orca’s family pod.

“The tactical group is committed to working together to find practical solutions to the key issues this young lone orca faces,” says Jeff Milham.

“Its actions will focus on trying to achieve the goal of reuniting the orca with its family pod, which is essential to its long term survival in the wild.”

DOC is appealing for the Bay of Plenty public, if they see any orca pods in the area to call 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).

Background information

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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