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Whatipu orca 'most likely died at sea'

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 15/03/2017
A dead orca has washed up on the west coast of Auckland at Whatipu Beach. © Photo: Facebook/ James Rogers A dead orca has washed up on the west coast of Auckland at Whatipu Beach.

A killer whale found on a remote Auckland west coast beach is unlikely to have died from being struck by a boat, port-mortem examination results have shown.

Massey University Coastal-Marine Research Group director Dr Karen Stockin says a definitive cause of death is inconclusive, because of the decomposed state of the carcass found at Whatipu Beach.

However, the necropsy did rule out some hypotheses.

While there was bruising on the adult male orca's head and pectoral flipper, it was small and localised and there was no evidence of extensive blunt force trauma.

Dr Stockin said there was also no evidence to indicate a live stranding while chasing prey, and the whale most likely died at sea and washed ashore.

However, while refuted, the hunting and accidental stranding theory is reasonable given the identification of the whale, she said.

Images of the dorsal fin suggested that the animal found on Monday was known to the Orca Research Trust as "Nibble", which had a history of live stranding when chasing prey.

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