Kiri is a digital journalist for bayofplentytimes.co.nz.

Fears for the baby whale locals have called 'Bob'

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'Bob' the calf whale stranded in Tauranga Habour nudges a buoy. Photo/supplied
'Bob' the calf whale stranded in Tauranga Habour nudges a buoy. Photo/supplied

A baby orca separated from its pod in Tauranga Harbour has been affectionately named 'Bob' by locals.

The calf orca has been separated from its family pod for more than a week and has remained in local waters since.

International orca expert Jeff Foster arrived from America on Thursday to monitor the distressed orca and provide assistance and advice. The Department of Conservation and Orca Research Trust founder Dr Ingrid Visser have also been monitoring the calf, whose health is suffering.

DOC ranger Kate Miller said there were meetings held yesterday to help determine what options were available and feasible to help reunite the lost orca with its pod, or possibly that of another family unit.

Ms Miller said while authorities have only been referring the whale as 'the calf', local residents have begun calling it 'Bob'.

DOC and Orca Research Trust have not revealed the exact location of the calf to better help its chances of survival.

DOC operations manager Jeff Milham said the young orca was swimming freely but its condition was deteriorating. It needed to be reunited with its family group as soon as possible.

"Everyone at the meeting agreed that reuniting the lone orca calf with its family pod is the key to its long term survival in the wild.

"The difficulty we all face is finding the young orca's family pod as there have been no indications where the calf has come from. This means we have no way of knowing how long it will take to find the family pod."

Mr Milham said specialists were advising DOC to avoid any actions that could stress the young animal or unintentionally prevent its return to its family pod.

He asked boat owners and members of the public to keep away from the orca.

A tactical group has been formed with representatives from DOC, local iwi, the Orca Research Trust and key community stakeholders and has agreed to some key actions to address the orca's core issues.

Dr Visser could not be reached for comment yesterday.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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