A Department of Conservation (DOC) investigation is underway into an orca pod that has been sighted in the Marlborough Sounds, as rescue attempts continue for an orca calf that was found stranded on rocks near Plimmerton, north of Wellington, a week ago.
“We have still to confirm whether or not this is the orca’s pod, and there are currently people in the Sounds trying to get photographs to confirm. We welcome photographs from the public if anyone does spot the pod, but do ask them to keep a 50m distance,” says DOC Marine Species Manager, Ian Angus.
“We had been reviewing moving the orca back into the sea pen today, but we have decided not to.”
“Following the storms, Greater Wellington Regional Council have issued a health warning advising the harbour is currently unsuitable for swimming. This means it would not be safe for our volunteers to go into the sea pen with the orca right now.
“We are also keeping an eye on the weather, and there is some more rough weather forecast for Wednesday. We want to minimise the number of times we move the orca.
“We will be keeping an eye on the weather and water health advisories over the next few days, along with the orca’s health to guide a decision about when to move it back.”
He said vets carried out standard health checks on the orca calf today, with the results falling within normal parameters.
“Although the calf is still in a stable condition, it has been in our care for more than a week now. We are conscious this is a long time for the calf to be away from its pod and mother, and to be kept in temporary enclosures,” Mr Angus said.
“To help reduce the stress as much as possible, we will continue to restrict access to the site and appreciate the ongoing respect and support from the public.”