First Orca Whale spotted in Akaroa Harbour this season

October 18, 2016

First Orca Whale spotted in Akaroa Harbour this season

Black Cat Cruises staff spotted the first orca of the season in Akaroa Harbour this week, a month earlier than the first spotting last year.

Black Cat Cruises Sales & Marketing Manager Natasha Lombart says that although technically there is no orca season in New Zealand, Black Cat Cruises have a few orca sightings each year and they tend to happen in the spring.

“Most people don’t know, that with the exception of human beings, orca are the most widely distributed mammal on earth,” says Lombart.

“The pod of orca our team saw in the Harbour today comprised of a mother and her calf, one large male, two juveniles and possibly another male. Females and males differ in length, with males being longer and bulkier than females. Females have smaller, more curved dorsal fins, and smaller flippers.”

The first spotting comes on the back of confirmation from Trip Advisor and their booking agent Viatour that Black Cat Cruises are not included in a ban, recently announced by TripAdvisor, that it will stop promoting tours that fail to meet animal welfare guidelines, particularly those involving “physical contact with captive wild animals or endangered species”.

“As a certified SMART (Sustainable Marine Mammal Actions in Recreation and Tourism) and eco-tourism operator we applaud Trip Advisor’s move. Black Cat Cruises were never included in Trip Advisor’s “no touching of wild animals” policy, whereby it will no longer sell tickets to attractions where travellers come into physical contact with captive, wild or endangered animals.

“We already comply with their environmental regulations”, Lombart said. “Unlike many overseas operators, tours in New Zealand do not allow people to hold onto the dolphins, and nor should they.”



Man finds dead orca at Rarangi beach in Marlborough

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.


Orca ‘super-pod’ in Whangarei Harbour

September 9, 2016

A “super pod” of about 25 orcas have been socialising and hunting stringrays in the Whangarei Harbour.

Northland orca expert Ingrid Visser said the orca were first sighted at 8am yesterday in Reotahi and a second sighting was made at Parua Bay.

The pod included a male orca called Ben, who had previously stranded off Mangawhai Heads in 1997 and another named Putita who had stranded on Ruakaka beach in 2010.

Then there was brother and sister, Funky Monkey and Pickle, and A1- an adult female spotted under the Auckland Harbour Bridge in 1988.

A new calf was also among the pod seen in the harbour yesterday.

The orca swam into a little basin between the Onerahi foreshore past the boat ramp and Limestone Island.

“I’ve never seen so many orca in that area before. It was fantastic to see so many of them socialising and hunting,” Dr Visser said.

She said the super pod was seen in the greater Hauraki area three weeks ago and they could stay in the harbour for a few days or only a few hours.

She urged people who see orca to call the 0800 SEE ORCA hotline.


Orca pod just metres from shore at Auckland’s Kohimarama Beach

August 28, 2016

A pod of orcas are still delighting swimmers at Auckland’s Kohimarama Beach.

Paddleboarder Sam Thom was preparing to paddle to Browns Island at 6.30am today when he spotted the creatures – and luckily, he had his drone on hand to capture this amazing footage.

“It was great to see the orca coming right up beside us and touching the boards,” Thom, 28, told ONE News Now. “We were all both excited and nervous to be so close to them. Definitely a special start to spring.”

To see the video visit the source at

Tama the orca laid to rest

August 7, 2016

Tama is the name by which the baby orca who died on Saturday morning will be remembered by local iwi says Reon Tuanau of Ngai Te Rangi.

“Tama, the boy who clung to a buoy in the harbour is how we will remember him,” says Reon, who was one of the iwi representatives involved in the operation to rescue the young orca.

Known by a number of nick names including Bob, and Tiger, Reon says Tama is the name iwi have given him.

The orca died in a land based pool at Ongare Point in the early hours of Saturday morning despite the best efforts of a team of the world’s leading orca experts to save him. Before being brought ashore he had spent 21 days alone and close to a buoy just off Ongare Point.

Reon says a service was held for Tama at Ongare Point on Saturday afternoon and he was taken to be buried in a special place.

“We held a karakia for him and sent him off in the best way we knew how.

“He has been buried at a special site in the harbour where he will be respected and remembered.”

Reon says despite the sad outcome, there are a number of positives from the orca experience, including the way in which those involved worked together.

He has high praise for the orca experts and the Ongare Point Community too.

“We take a number of learnings away from this and I hope in future should another similar situation arise we can act more swiftly.

“One of the gifts this taonga, this orca, has given us is to highlight the needs to have more things in place so we can act more swiftly to do what is required.”


Orca Calf found wandering alone in New Zealand

August 3, 2016

An orca calf separated from its pod in the Bay of Plenty. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Last week an orca calf was found wandering alone. When it was first found the government prohibited interference or intervention of the calf despite expert opinions that the calf could be rehabilitated if given appropriate help.

But a petition circulated and government granted on Friday that experts could go in and try to help.

Updates on the situation can be found at the Orca Research Trust’s Facebook page.

International expert flown in to help young orca

July 28, 2016

An international orca expert will arrive in the Bay today to help rescue a young calf separated from its pod.

For the last week the Department of Conservation and Orca Research Trust founder Dr Ingrid Visser have been working to help save a young orca, believed to be between six months and a year old, after it became separated from its pod in the Bay of Plenty.

Dr Visser arranged for international orca expert Jeff Foster to fly over from America to provide assistance and advice.

He previously led the capture of Springer the orca, who was separated from her pod as a calf, and later returned her back to her pod. He also worked to prepare the killer whale Keiko, from the 1993 movie Free Willy, for release into the wild.

Mr Foster was due to fly in at first light today and would be in the Bay by the afternoon.

Department of Conservation senior biodiversity ranger Brad Angus said the department had been monitoring an orca calf in the Bay of Plenty for a week.

“The best thing we can do for this young orca is to minimise interaction and direct contact with people as this will place more stress on the animal,” Mr Angus said.

DOC is asking for the public to stay away from the orca as approaching it would only add to its stress.

Dr Visser also urged members of the public to stay away from the calf because it needed all its energy to survive.

“One of the reasons it can survive on its own is that it has a blubber layer. At the moment it’s metabolising it’s blubber supply,” she said.


Orca sighting in Papamoa

May 16, 2016

Papamoa residents on Parton Rd have had a visit of the marine kind, with two orca swimming just offshore.

John Howlett was setting his kontiki about 1.30pm today when he noticed two orca travelling west towards Mount Maunganui, along the coast.

One of the orca swimming at Sandhurst. Photos: Supplied.

“Yeah I was just out setting the kontiki and just as I was putting it out. Low-and-behold a couple of orcas popped up.

“I’ve lost sight of them now but they were heading west and they’re only probably 150m to 200m off the beach. The last time I saw them it was around about the Papamoa Surf Club. It was the closest I’ve ever seen them in.”

The avid fisherman believes the pair may have been chasing kahawai.

“Prior to them (orca) turning up, there was a heap of kahawai on the surface. You constantly in the waves in that in kind of work ups all the time. So they were probably chasing kahawai or bait fish.”

John says the orca had the same idea as himself.

“It’s the perfect day and people are catching fish so why not get out and set the kontiki.”

He says he often saw orca when he set his kontiki.

“You normally see them probably, you know at least 500 to a [kilometre] out on a regular basis. But not this close in.”

If you have any snaps of our two mammal visitors then send them through to us. Email

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A group of friends out kayaking in Tauranga harbour were treated to rare sighting of a pod of orca whales – featuring local celebrity whale, Pickles.

April 30, 2016

Jade Buitendag and her friends had originally set out on their kayaking mission in search of eagle rays, but were happy none the less with the substitute they discovered.
“After kayaking around for a bit we were blessed with a visit from a pod of orca whales, including the well known Pickles,” Ms Buitendag said.
“What a privilege to live in the world’s most beautiful country.”
Killer whales can be found in all oceans but studies suggest they seem to prefer coastal waters and cooler regions.

Click on the link bellow to see VIDEO