Community members united to assist in the rescue of an Orca calf that’s been stranded alone in the ocean for over 21 days.
The health of the Orca was closely monitored by experts since it was spotted alone in the water and efforts to locate its pod have so far been unsuccessful.
Ingrid Visser of the Orca Research Trust says the health of the young Orca had deteriorated rapidly so his rescue was vital.
“We could see that he was struggling to maintain his position in the current and he was struggling to surface so the decision was made to do it today.”
A makeshift pool for the baby Orca was constructed on the shore and a helicopter with a monsoon bucket filled it with sea water.
Local iwi were present and conducted karakia as the rescue took place.
The rescue crew was made up of DOC workers, community and iwi members and local Waihi mine workers who heard about the rescue and pitched in to carry the Orca ashore.
Carlton Bidois of Ngāti Ranginui says, “My own belief is he wanted help he put himself in that sling and then he sang all the way into shore and he’s absolutely relaxed now so I think he’s happy where he is now he can relax now cos he’s out of the current.”
The baby Orca, yet to be named, is expected to remain in the pool for around 24 hours. He will then be taken to a holding pool for further rehabilitation.
Local Iwi and DOC will work together to eventually repatriate the Orca into the wild and attempt to locate a pod for him once his health improves.
Bidois says from what they know about Orca there is a high chance the young mammals pod will return.
"Based on the experts knowledge and what we know culturally about the Orca and this harbour we are certain they’ll definitely come back and if we do the right thing I’m positive we will repatriate him back to a pod.”