Date: 15 July 2021
The orca calf – believed to be between four and six months old – stranded on rocks at Plimmerton on Sunday afternoon (11 July). Volunteers from Whale Rescue/Orca Research Trust, the Department of Conservation (DOC) and local iwi Ngati Toa Rangatira are working together in a complex operation to keep the calf healthy and stable.
Ian Angus, DOC Marine Species Manager, says the weather in the area is forecast to worsen over the next 24 hours, so planning is underway to strengthen the orca’s temporary pen. Metservice predicts northerly winds rising to gale force for the region on 16 July. Swells are expected to rise to 1 metre.
“We cannot control the weather and sea conditions, and with the forecast for the region we are now planning how we can ensure the welfare of the calf,” he says.
“The health and safety of the people contributing to this effort is also paramount and that’s something we’re managing closely too.”
Yesterday’s sightings of orca pods off the western coast of the lower North Island have not been verified. There have been no reported orca pod sightings this morning and the sea and air search has been halted pending more reported sightings.
Ian Angus says the support at the wharf has been significant, but with worsening weather people are urged to keep away unless they are directly involved with the operation. People are also asked not to fly drones over the site as it can disturb the calf.
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. The calf was fed this morning and it remains stable.
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