Rescuers trying to reunite an orca with its pod off the coast of Plimmerton, near Porirua, north of Wellington, have returned the calf to shore.
On Sunday night, rescuers reported bringing the previously stranded orca into the ocean off the side of a boat so it could be reunited with its pod. However, their search was in vain.
Witness Allie Burns said if rescuers couldn’t find the capsule, they would take the whale back to the Plimmerton Boat Club to look after it overnight, and authorities would try again Monday morning by helicopter or plane.
Tamara Christie-Siaosi, marketing communications adviser to the Department of Conservation, said the department was on site to respond to the incident with rescuers.
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The department would provide more information as it became available.
Christine Rose, a whale attorney, said the orca was stranded near Honguka Marae, on the coast near Honguka, just north of Plimmerton. The orca was originally found “washed up, stranded on the beach” and called to his pod before rescuers attempted to reunite him with his pod.
Experienced rescuers had brought the whale into the water with equipment earlier on Sunday evening, but they had run out of daylight and so had brought the orca back to shore.
“The howling and lost orca is pretty sad,” Rose said.
People should keep an eye out for the pod along the west coast of the North Island, she said. Any public sighting must be reported to the department immediately.