Experts join forces to help reunite Billy the whale with his family

unit Billy the orca calf has become separated from his pod off the coast of the Bay of Plenty. Photo / Supplied
unit Billy the orca calf has become separated from his pod off the coast of the Bay of Plenty. Photo / Supplied

A crack team of whale experts has today talked tactics in the fight to reunite Billy the orca calf with his family.

Among those discussing what to do with the whale, which separated from his pod off the coast of Bay of Plenty, is a renowned American whale expert who helped free the silver screen's most famous whale.

Now top gun Jeff Foster, who helped prepare killer whale Keiko for the wild in the 1993 smash hit movie Free Willy, is helping formulate a plan to assist Billy.

Also pondering Billy's future is the Department of Conservation, local iwi and the Orca Reserve Trust.

Complicating matters is that Billy's family seems to have floated off without a second thought for the young calf and there is no sign of them.

The Department of Conservation says it's likely the calf's been alone for "well over a week".

And while Billy seemed to be swimming freely, it was "losing condition" and needed to be reunited with its relatives smartly, the department's Tauranga-based operations manager Jeff Milham said.

"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," he said.

"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.

"Meanwhile we know that without the support of its pod the young orca's condition is deteriorating."

Meanwhile the whale experts are thinking about how to re-unite Billy with its family or how it could survive if this proved impossible.

If anyone sees any orca pods in Bay of Plenty, the department would like to hear: 0800 DOC Hot/0800 362 468.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 29 Sep 2016 10:41:19 Processing Time: 447ms