Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016 (Elaine Fisher). Conditions this morning are fine and calm, in contrast to the wind, rain and hail of recent days, making it more pleasant for the rescue team and the young mammal, believed to be between seven and 12-months-old.
Among those helping the calf are Jeff Foster from America who has experience in helping a wild orca calf.
He led the capture of Springer the orca, who was separated from her pod as a calf, and later returned her back to her pod. He also worked to prepare the killer whale Keiko, from the 1993 movie Free Willy, for release into the wild.
In an effort to find the young orca’s family pod, recreational and commercial boat operators are being asked via the coastguard’s marine radio to report sightings of orca pods in the Bay of Plenty region to the Orca Research Trust by phoning : O800 SEE ORCA / 0800 733 6722.
Yesterday DNA samples taken from the calf were sent to lab for testing in an effort to establish which pod he belongs to. Ingrid and Jeff also took a sample from the orca’s breath by holding a plastic disk with an agar solution, above the animal’s blow hole.
The agar captures particles in the orca’s breath.
The decision to enlist the coastguard’s support was made by the Orca Tactical Planning Group made up of members from a broad range of disciplines, backgrounds and cultures.
They have diverse skills, and are working together to achieve the best possible result for the whale.
“We’re really grateful to Tauranga Coastguard for helping the OTPG with one of our goals – seeing if we can find this lone orca calf’s family pod,” says DOC Orca Incident Controller John Lucas.
“This group is in agreement that reuniting the lone orca calf with its family pod is the key to its long term survival in the wild.
“The difficulty we all face is finding the young orca’s family pod as there have been no indications where the calf has come from,” says John.