Wellington (AFP) – Ten days after a baby orca was stranded in New Zealand, concerns are growing about the future of the small marine mammal. Experts are no longer ruling out the need for euthanasia for the killer whale, baptized as the Maori Toa.
The search for the herd has not been successful so far – also due to very bad weather conditions in the past few days, New Zealand media reported. Toa is currently being cared for and fed by conservationists in a swimming pool specially set up for him.
The calf was discovered in the shallow waters off Plimmerton Beach on the North Island on July 12. Since then, many volunteers have been searching for his family at sea, but so far to no avail. The whale is probably less than three months old, and therefore still too young to live alone in the wild. He also desperately needs mother’s milk.
Marine biologist Karen Stocken told the New Zealand Herald that vets had done an “amazing job” to keep Toa stable and alive, but he has now been diagnosed with colic. In addition, such a young whale relies on learning vital skills from its mother and herd for its later life, according to the expert from Massey University in Auckland. Sooner or later, there were only two options: euthanize the whales or transfer them to a facility specialized in whales, which is not found in New Zealand.
Ian Angus, a marine expert at the Department of Conservation, said: “We are planning for a number of scenarios. While the health of the orca is stable, we also need to be realistic about this animal’s long-term well-being. And that should be our main concern.”
At the same time, Angus was optimistic about the possibility of finding the herd. Another herd that could save the Toa: Female Orcas are known to be able to adopt whale calves as surrogate mothers. Many people in New Zealand follow the news about Baby Pisces every day and hope for a happy ending.
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