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

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


A portable pool will be brought on site as contingency planning continues for bad weather at the location north of Wellington where a stranded orca calf is being cared for.

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), local iwi Ngāti Toa Rangatira and the community are working together in a complex operation to keep the calf healthy and stable.

Ian Angus, DOC Marine Species Manager, says this temporary holding pool is being arranged as a safety measure with expected sea swells of up to 4 metres tomorrow, and potential gale force winds.

“This is a back-up plan for if we feel the sea has gotten too rough and the calf’s welfare, and the welfare of volunteers on site, may be compromised,” Ian Angus says.

Choppy seas and high winds mean there is a risk the calf will be buffeted into some of the structures currently forming the animal’s temporary pen.

“We’ll only move the animal into the holding pool if we have to – putting the animal into the pool would only be a temporary measure and is certainly not a long-term solution.”

Shifting the animal to the pool would also mitigate a health and safety issue for volunteers who will be in the water caring for the calf. The pool can hold 32,000 litres of seawater.

Ian Angus re-emphasised the welfare of the animal remains at the core of all decision making as the operation continues. Vets have done their health assessments and the animal remains stable and was fed again this afternoon.

He says contingency planning for a range of scenarios continues.

There have been no further reported sightings today of orca pods.

Further information

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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