Orca calf to be assessed by expert

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Orca expert Jeff Foster will attempt to get close enough to assess  a lone calf today. Photo: Ingrid Visser
Orca expert Jeff Foster will attempt to get close enough to assess a lone calf today. Photo: Ingrid Visser

An international orca expert has arrived in the country to check on a young orca found alone in a Bay of Plenty waterway.

The Department of Conservation and Orca Research Trust founder Dr Ingrid Visser have been working to help save the young orca, believed to be between six months and a year old, after it became separated from its pod.

Dr Visser arranged for international orca expert Jeff Foster to fly from America to provide assistance and advice.

This morning she said Mr Foster had touched down and she was urging him on "like Sea Biscuit" to get out to the scene and assess the calf.

"It's a very complex situation with lots of moving parts," Dr Visser said.

"We're trying to get out there on the water this morning, though we're dependent on the weather and the area is also tidal."

DOC and Dr Visser have not disclosed the location of the calf, for fear of attracting onlookers to the area.

Jeff Foster previously led the capture of Springer the orca, who was separated from her pod as a calf, and later returned her back to her pod. He also worked to prepare the killer whale Keiko, from the 1993 movie Free Willy, for release into the wild.

Earlier, Department of Conservation senior biodiversity ranger Brad Angus said the department had been monitoring an orca calf in the Bay of Plenty for a week.

"The best thing we can do for this young orca is to minimise interaction and direct contact with people as this will place more stress on the animal," Mr Angus said.

DOC is asking for the public to stay away from the orca as approaching it would only add to its stress.

Dr Visser also urged members of the public to stay away from the calf because it needed all its energy to survive.

"One of the reasons it can survive on its own is that it has a blubber layer. At the moment it's metabolising it's blubber supply," she said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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