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Stranded orca in Marlborough returned to the sea

13 November 2017

Stranded orca in Marlborough returned to the sea

An orca stranded on Marfells Beach in Marlborough since yesterday [Sunday] has been successfully refloated this afternoon and was swimming out to sea.

A pontoon was used to float the orca out to deeper water as the tide came in around 1.30pm. Once in deeper water, the orca was released and began swimming freely.

Department of Conservation Sounds Operations Manager David Hayes said DOC was very grateful for the considerable help given with rescuing the whale.

“We’ve had fantastic help with the orca from a large number of people, and we give a big thank you to them.

“Project Jonah marine mammal medics have helped in caring for the orca and Orca Research Trust and Whale Rescue members flew into Blenheim today to assist with the refloat.

“We’ve had 25 defence force personnel from New Zealand, the USA, Canada and Australia who’ve been a big help. They dug a trench, about 1 metre deep and about 20 metres long, to create a channel of deeper water in which to refloat the whale. They also assisted in getting the orca onto the pontoon and took part in refloating it.

“The defence force personnel are in Marlborough currently for Exercise Southern Katipo and were very keen to assist.

“We’ve also had other people come along to help over the two days the orca was stranded on the beach.”

The stranded orca was reported to DOC staff shortly after 10.30am on Sunday (12 November). DOC staff, a Project Jonah medic and several volunteers attempted to refloat the orca in the high tide shortly after 1pm but were unsuccessful.

DOC staff and Project Jonah medics stayed with the orca overnight and into this morning, keeping it cool and wet with buckets of seawater until it could be refloated close to high tide this afternoon.


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