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Rescuers move baby orca out of waves

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 3/08/2016

A hungry, young orca separated from its family off the coast of Bay of Plenty has been moved to shelter as rescuers try to feed it.

The calf has been alone in the area for 20 days and the Department of Conservation, local iwi and the Orca Research Trust are increasingly becoming worried about its health - especially after attempts to feed it failed.

On Wednesday, rescuers moved the animal into a temporary structure on the coast in a bid to save it.

"The land-based structure is a temporary holding area that gets the maki out of the strong tidal flows in its current location," iwi representative Carlton Bidois said.

"We're still focused on the next step of the operation which is the creation of a sea-pen in the water."

DOC operations manager Jeff Milham said the decision to move the calf was made because it would have been unlikely to recover even if it reunited with its pod.

"This is an unprecedented situation, given the age of the calf. We are working with marine mammal experts and iwi to evaluate all the possible options," he said.

The location of the temporary structure and planned sea pen are being kept secret to avoid onlookers.

Reports of pods in the area were raising hopes the calf could be reunited with its family soon, rescuers said.

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