The Department of Conservation has received a number of calls since it appealed for information about boaties filmed harassing a pod of orca in a Northland bay.

DoC put a call out to the public asking for information after drone footage posted in a Facebook group showed boaties in Helena Bay following the orca at speed and passing over top of them - behaviour which has alarmed marine mammal experts.

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DoC Bay of Islands marine ranger Cat Peters said two vessels - a red dinghy and a white inflatable boat - were criss-crossing over the top of the orca and driving directly in their path, cutting off their direction of travel.


Peters said an article about the incident published in the Northern Advocate on Saturday had been "really helpful" and a number of people had since contacted DoC with information.

"We are still asking for further information. You never know someone could have one bit of information that makes a difference," she said.

The footage, which was first shared on January 4, starts with the orca passing a paddleboarder as they cruise around rocks at Ngawai Bay.

The orca then approaches a small fishing boat and a red dinghy with five people on board, swimming around and under the vessels.

The clip then shows the orca cruising past Helena Bay Lodge with the paddleboarder following at a distance when the red dinghy re-appears and approaches the pod at speed.

The dinghy passes over the top of an orca, still at speed, while a white inflatable boat joins the chase.

A still from the video shows one of the boats (right) about to drive at speed over the top of an orca. Photo / Facebook
A still from the video shows one of the boats (right) about to drive at speed over the top of an orca. Photo / Facebook

The boaties' behaviour was a clear breach of the New Zealand Marine Mammal Regulations which barred people from disturbing or harassing marine mammals.

The rules also stated that boats needed to keep at least 50m from whales or orca and drop to no-wake speed within 300m.


Peters said she had no problem with the paddleboarder, who had allowed the orca to pass him then approached slowly from behind.

She said DoC would be following up on the information it had received so far.

Anyone with information is urged to call the 24-hour hotline 0800 DOC HOT.

NZ Marine Mammal Regulations

• Don't travel faster than idle or no-wake speed within 300m of marine mammals.
• No more than three vessels within 300m.
• Don't block their path. Approach from a parallel position or behind.
• Don't swim with dolphin pods when juveniles are present.
• Stay 50m away from any whale or orca.
• Stay 200m away from any baleen or sperm whale with a calf.
• Don't swim with whales or orca.

• DoC also requires drone users to have a permit to fly within 600m altitude or 150m horizontally of marine mammals.