Efforts to save an orca that was tangled in a cray pot line in Whangārei Harbour have so far been unsuccessful, despite the best efforts of rescuers.
The adult male orca, who was with his family, was first spotted near Tutukaka on Monday and he was followed by Ingrid Visser and other members of the Orca Research Trust where they last spotted him about 9pm at Taiharuru, just north of Whangārei Harbour.
However, on Tuesday morning Visser and her crew found the orca again in Whangārei Harbour and worked frantically through the day to try to free him.
The Department of Conservation, which is the lead agency in whale rescues, urged people to stay away from the area while efforts were under way to free it.
Visser said the orca was first spotted near Tutukaka on Monday morning and members of the trust, working with Dive! Tutukaka, stayed with it before she and trust members caught up with it again in Whangārei Harbour.
''He's an adult male who is with his family,'' Visser told the Northern Advocate from the scene on Tuesday.
''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 while the orca had a cray pot attached to the line, disentangling the orca was not straightforward.
''It's around his right pec fin and it may have embedded in his skin so we will have to be careful. It could leave him with an infection which could cause blood poisoning and lead to a slow, painful death. The line is also very short so it's difficult to get a grip on it to cut it off,'' she said.
''So it's not just a simple matter of cutting the line off, it's got to be done very carefully.''
However, despite their best efforts the orca could not be freed.
Visser said it was frustrating as her team had managed to hook the line a few times but the orca managed to wriggle free before it could be cut.
At edition time yesterday it was not known where the orca was.