An orca calf has been separated from its pod in the Bay of Plenty and experts, including the man who helped release the animal which was used in the movie Free Willy, are working to keep it alive.

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 Department was working with Dr Ingrid Visser to keep a close eye on the orca because it did not have the support of the rest of the pod.

"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 will only add to its stress.

Dr Visser said she was closely monitoring the young whale and had international orca expert Jeff Foster on his way to New Zealand to provide assistance and advice on the best way forward.

Mr Foster has previously led the capture of Springer the orca and returned her back to her pod.

He also worked in Iceland as part of a multimillion-dollar effort to prepare the killer whale Keiko from the 1993 movie Free Willy for release into the wild.

Dr Visser said Mr Foster would be flying in at first light tomorrow and would be out on the water with the orca tomorrow afternoon.

How the orca has become separated from its pod would be pure speculation, Dr Visser said.

Call DOC hotline (0800 362 468) if you see any orca pods in the Bay of Plenty.