Anna is a reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Fears grow for lone whale calf

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LOST: The orca calf which was separated from its pod in the Bay of Plenty. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
LOST: The orca calf which was separated from its pod in the Bay of Plenty. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Fears are growing for the well-being of a lone orca calf seprated from its pod in the Bay of Plenty .

International orca expert Jeff Foster arrived from America yesterday to monitor the orca and provide assistance and advice.

Orca Research Trust founder Dr Ingrid Visser spoke to the Bay of Plenty Times while she and Mr Foster were sitting 30m away from the orca.

"It's struggling, but it's fighting," she said.

"We have to be realistic, it definitely needs some assistance. It will die and nobody wants to see an animal suffer like that.

"He's very tired, he's been here for 10 days, the poor little tyke, it struggles in the strong currents, so that is really hard."

Dr Visser said Mr Foster had been out to see the whale and assess the area. He would be reporting his findings at a meeting with the Department of Conservation this morning.

She said he had last visited New Zealand 40 years ago.

"He's very pleased to be back," Dr Visser said.

They would be discussing intervention with DOC, and had been consulting iwi and key stake holders.

She said they had been asking the public to give the whale space.

"It needs all its energy to survive. People have been amazing and very, very respectful," Dr Visser said.

The orca had also been monitored by DOC staff for over a week, and they were becoming increasingly concerned for its health.

District Operations Manager Jeff Milham said it was unclear where the orca's family was.

They advised boaties and the public to stay away from the young orca, and would continue to monitor it closely.

A petition had even been started on by a person located in Poulsbo, Washington, and shared on the Huffington Post online blog by British Divers Marine Life Rescue's Orca Aware Campaign founding manager Sam Lipman, requesting that the New Zealand government allows intervention.

The petition had received 5666 online signatures as at 5pm yesterday.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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