A stranded orca whale has been successfully re-floated in Marlborough.

Dozens of people, including 25 Army personnel, assisted in helping the whale on Marfells Beach, south of Blenheim.

The Department of Conservation and Project Jonah also pitched in, using specially designed pontoons.

The orca is now swimming freely in deeper water.

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Earlier, the Army, including 25 soldiers from New Zealand, Canada, America and Australia on a multi-national exercise in the region, started digging deep trenches in the ocean in a bid to refloat the young male orca.

World-renowned marine biologist and orca researcher Ingrid Visser had also headed south to help with the rescue operation.

The next opportunity to refloat the 6m-long orca was at 2pm on high tide.


A plane has also gone up this morning to search for a pod of orca seen in the area last night.

Grover said this was good news for the stricken mammal as it meant its family was close by and was waiting for it to be reunited.

He said the orca had survived the night thanks to the efforts of Department of Conservation staff, volunteers and locals.

But there was now no need for further volunteers with plenty of Army reinforcements and marine specialists on hand to care of the orca.


The Army had been on had since first light digging a trench to help with the refloat.

Dozens of volunteers including the Department of Conservation and medics from Project Jonah tended to the stricken mammal yesterday, wrapping it in damp cloth and keeping it as comfortable as possible between tides.

*** STRANDING UPDATE *** The orca at Marfells Beach in Blenheim has been cared for throughout the day, which has...

Posted by Project Jonah New Zealand on Saturday, 11 November 2017

Project Jonah said volunteers had worked tirelessly through the night keeping the stranded orca cool, calm and comfortable.

Whale-Rescue.org said the Department of Conservation had requested Visser and her specialist team to help with the rescue of the stranded sub-adult male orca due to their previous experience.

Thanks to fantastic efforts from marine mammal medics overnight the Orca had remained calm and rested.

Attempts to refloat the stranded whale on the high tide yesterday were twice unsuccessful.