Department of Conservation (DOC) rangers have taken the carcass of a young orca to Massey University's Albany campus where a necropsy will be performed to try to determine the cause of death.

The female calf died after stranding near the Whangaparoa Peninsula.

She was found stranded on a mud bank at Duck Creek, a tributary of the Weiti River just south of the Whangaparoa Peninsula, around 5pm yesterday.

DOC Auckland marine ranger Martin Stanley says local residents called the department and tried to keep the orca alive but it died before a team of rangers and staff from Massey University arrived at the stranding site.

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"The orca is a female calf about two years old and showed signs of emaciation."

"It appears to have become separated from its pod or family group. At that age it should still be with its mother and may have struggled to forage for itself. That could have led to dehydration and starvation," says Martin Stanley.

He praised the people who tried to save the orca. "We thank them for calling DOC and for doing what they could to try to keep the orca alive."

Members of the public who see a marine mammal such as an orca or whale stranded or in distress should call DOC's 24 hour 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).