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

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


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

Date:  21 July 2021

Department of Conservation (DOC) Marine Species Manager, Ian Angus, says some of the injuries sustained by the calf during the stranding are healing well, but others require ongoing monitoring.

“The calf did display some short-term signs of discomfort in his gut, likely associated with trying to get the delicate balance of feeding requirements right.”

Orca don’t typically wean until one to two years of age.

The young orca has now been in our care for over a week.

It remains in the temporary pool with staff and volunteers keeping an eye on the weather, with wind and swells forecast. A move to the sea pen is not likely today, but this will be reassessed as conditions allow, Ian Angus says.

The incoming rough weather means it is unlikely the team will be able to have boats out following up pod sightings later today, he says.

Any sightings of orca around the country should be reported to DOC HOT 0800 362 468 or via marinemammals@doc.govt.nz. Pods in the lower north island and Marlborough region give the best chance of release.

“Our focus at the moment is on finding the specific pod the orca calf has come from. We will try to verify the pod based on the markings of the orca, so any photographs people can provide with reported sightings will help immensely.

“We are still planning for a range of scenarios. We are optimistic that we may find the pod, and the orca’s health is still stable, but we are also being realistic as we consider the ongoing welfare of this animal – that has to be our number one concern.”

Veterinarians are onsite day and night and continue to carry out health checks on the animal.

The site remains closed the public to reduce stress for the orca calf.

Last Sunday (11 July), the orca calf was stranded on rocks near Plimmerton, north of Wellington. An ongoing operation to care for the orca calf is being led by DOC with support from Orca Research Trust/Whale Rescue Trust, local iwi Ngāti Toa Rangatira, and the local community.

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.

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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