October 10, 2016
A man walking his dog has found a dead orca calf on a Marlborough beach.
Linus Maxwell was walking his dog on the stretch of beach next to the Wairau Bar when he discovered the carcass about 3pm on Sunday.
Maxwell noticed Spud, his 18-month-old border terrier, acting strangely before he noticed the animal on the shore.
“My dog was way ahead of me and I could see something at the water’s edge,” he said.
“He was acting really weird, darting back and forward so I thought it would be an animal.
“At first I thought it was a seal. It was a complete surprise.”
The animal’s distinctive colour scheme was instantly identifiable, although the white skin had started to turn yellow, Maxwell said.
“The skin was peeling off the orca a little bit like it was sunburnt,” he said.
The dead calf was around 2.2 metres in length. Maxwell estimated it had only been dead for “two to three days”.
“Even for a calf it was quite big,” he said.
“I didn’t know what to do. I was wondering whether to bury it.”
The 58-year-old contacted the Department of Conservation but said there was nothing he could do to help the animal.
“It’s sad,” he said. “It means there is one less out there swimming around. Especially being a calf.”
Maxwell, of Blenheim, said he did not touch the animal and presumed the incoming tide would move the body.
The orca did not appear to have any physical damage or scars to explain the cause of death, Maxwell said.
“It was a unique find,” he said. “If it was still alive I would have acted differently.
“But it was long dead.”
Maxwell captured a video of the orca and uploaded it to his Facebook page.