Rescuers are still working to free an orca entangled in a crayfish line.

At 11am today, the Department of Conservation had its entire entanglement team on two boats working to try to free the animal.

DoC first responded to reports of the entangled animal off Northland's Tutukaka on Monday but there were sightings of it in the Waitemata Harbour yesterday.

The crayfish line is cutting into its flesh so rescuers are working against the clock.


Dr Ingrid Visser from the Orca Research Trust said if they don't free it today, it could die.

Police also joined the rescue effort yesterday and provided an escort to keep boaties away from the stricken animal.

"Police are there in a support role should DoC (or the other organisations involved) require assistance," a police spokeswoman said.

There were three orca in the pod with the large male tangled in the cray pot line and a large orange buoy.

''He's an adult male who is with his family,'' Visser earlier told the Northern Advocate from the scene.

''We can hear him calling them, He's making distress calls and we've got to make sure his family is safe too.''

Visser said the line was "around his right pec fin".

It could leave him with an infection which could cause blood poisoning and lead to a slow, painful death, she said.


''The line is also very short so it's difficult to get a grip on it to cut it off,'' she said.

A DoC spokeswoman said the department was the lead agency in whale strandings and entanglements and would direct the operation.

''We need space to do this work and request that the public do not approach the orca or DoC crews, stay at least 50m away in boats and do not enter the water,'' she said.