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Rescuers to set up sea pen for orca calf

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 2/08/2016

Rescuers are stepping in to help a hungry orca calf that's been separated from its family off the coast of Bay of Plenty.

The young calf has been in the area since July 19 and the Department of Conservation, local iwi and the Orca Tactical Response Group are increasingly becoming worried about its health.

"At this point, the calf is emaciated and we haven't been able to locate its family pod," DOC incident controller John Lucas said on Tuesday.

"We need to consider the safety of the public and responders, and the welfare of the whale as we implement further actions of the response."

Attempts by experts to feed the calf have been unsuccessful, although they have managed to collect DNA and respiratory samples for testing.

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

It is now looking to set up a sea pen to protect the animal until then.

"A sea pen is likely to mitigate stress to the animal from the strong tidal flows in its current location," it said.

"The tidal flow, weather, available resources and situation of the calf will determine the plausibility of future developments."

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