Orca calf stranded at Plimmerton.
Image: Leon Berard | DOC

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


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.

Date:  23 July 2021

The condition of the orca calf that stranded 13 days ago began to deteriorate this evening.

Department of Conservation Marine Species Manager, Ian Angus, says local iwi Ngāti Toa Rangatira, the many DOC staff, Orca Research Trust/Whale Rescue, and the local community threw everything at trying to save him.

“We were always aware that the longer he was in captivity, away from his mother, the more likely it was that his health would deteriorate. 

“Toa passed quickly, surrounded by love with his last days made as comfortable as possible.

“Throughout this amazing effort, we’ve all been united in wanting to do the best for Toa. Finding and reuniting him with his pod was still our goal as we headed into the weekend.

“This calf had captured hearts, and no one wanted to believe that he didn’t have a fighting chance.

“We will continue to treat Toa with the dignity and respect he deserves. Appropriate arrangements are being made with Ngāti Toa.

“We’d like to thank everyone who has volunteered their time and efforts to saving this orca calf and everyone who has followed his journey,” says Ian Angus.

Further information

On Sunday, 11 July, the orca calf was stranded on rocks near Plimmerton, north of Wellington. Less than 2.5 m long, he was thought to be two to six months old.

The 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.

Updates on the stranded juvenile orca in Porirua

View all updates on the stranded orca


For media enquiries contact:

Email: media@doc.govt.nz

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