A big community effort managed to successfully refloat an orca stranded on a Bay of Plenty beach today.
Department of Conservation (DOC) staff and volunteers from Project Jonah, Papamoa Surf Lifesaving Club and local residents all pitched in to help the whale on Papamoa Beach.
Known to orca researcher Ingrid Visser as Nobbie, the 30-year-old male’s stranding was reported at 6am just as the tide was going out.
DOC spokesperson Katrina Knill said initial efforts to push to push the orca back out to sea were unsuccessful.
“Volunteers helped to keep Nobbie wet and comfortable whilst waiting for the tide to come back in,” she said.
“A digger was used to create a trench to aid with refloating and once the water was deep enough, volunteers helped to reposition the whale before he pushed himself back out to sea.”
Knill said it was likely that the whale made an error while hunting for stingrays.
“They are regularly known to beach themselves while feeding but usually get themselves free again — Nobbie has been seen doing exactly that elsewhere in the country including Whangarei and Kaipara harbours,” she said.
“We’re very pleased with the positive outcome and want to say a big thank you to all the volunteers that worked so hard today,” Knill said.