Pauatahanui Orca - Whale Rescue, 1st September 2022
Dr Ingrid N. Visser recommends against driving the orca out of the Pāuatahanui Inlet, Porirua Harbour.
“Our information suggests that plans may be underway by the DOC and Project Jonah to attempt to force the seven orca out of the harbour. I believe that this is not in their best interests based on current evidence.”
Whale-Rescue.org has established a network of Citizen Scientists who are gathering crucial data from observations of the orca. From the moment the orca arrived in the Inlet, these observers have been operating from their own homes around the Harbour and adhering to Level 4 and Level 3 Covid-19 rules.
Dr Visser stated that “These orca are part of the New Zealand Coastal population who typically frequent shallow harbours. They are currently behaving within normal parameters and have been observed feeding on rays whilst in the harbour. We have documentation of this occurring every day they have been inside the Inlet, as well as observations of them sleeping.”
She believes that there is not enough evidence to show that the pod is in any imminent danger and therefore sees no reason to disturb them in order to try and drive them out of the harbour. “Although the adult male stranded late on the night of the 27th of August, he managed to free himself and rejoin his pod. From the video today we are able to see that his dorsal fin shows less evidence of drooping” she says. A drooping dorsal fin is often associated with poor health in orca. “ Although we have concerns for this male, he appears to be on the road to recovery and disturbing him by chasing him is not good for his welfare.”
New Zealand orca are a Nationally Critical species as designated by the Department of Conservation. With fewer than 200 individuals living around New Zealand, the orca in the inlet represents 4% of the population, so it is vital we keep them safe.