Orca Research Trust

Orca Research Trust

We Protect Orca & their Habitat, through Conservation, Education & Scientific Research. There are less than 200 living around NZ


Saving stranded orca and studying them in the wild. Originally founded to support the New Zealand based Ph.D. work of Dr. Visser, it now also operates at an international level, working with other projects (Antarctic Killer Whale Identification Catalogue, Punta Norte Orca Research - Argentina) and hosting international students, volunteers and teachers (as well as those from New Zealand).

includes the reclassifying the status of New Zealand orca to “Nationally Critical”. This is the highest threat ranking any species can be classified as, and is equivalent to the International classification “Endangered”. We have helped support Marine Reserve Applications and have published numerous popular-style articles about orca in order to get information out to the public.

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The ORCA RESEARCH TRUST protects Orca and their habitat through conservation, education, scientific research and emergency support worldwide.

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Latest update

Male Orca   3 September 2009

Posted by: Orca Research Trust

On the 27th of September 2008 an adult male orca (killer whale), nicknamed Nobby, stranded at Papamoa Beach, near Tauranga, New Zealand. After a dramatic rescue, where a digger excavated a deep channel in the sand and Orca Research Trust and members of the public coordinated a rescue (in co-operation with the Department of Conservation), Nobby was returned to the sea. He departed the beach amongst cheers of gGo Nobby, Goh from the crowd of an estimated 2,000 well-wishes. Http://www.givealittle.co.nz/Assets/Images/4115a97098b8a78b2525.jpg"" ""Nobby on Papamoa Beach"" On the 14th of November 2008 Nobby was resighted as he entered the Whitanga Harbour. Photos taken by the harbour master clearly showed Nobby's distinctive fin. Just three days ago (on the 31st of August 2009) Nobby was resighted, again in Whitianga Harbour. His return to the area is significant because rumours abounded that Nobby had 'got lost' and was disorientated and would not survive. This has been dispelled in the intervening time with sightings in the Bay of Islands and Whangarei Harbour. During all of these encounters, of significant interest was Nobbyfs behaviour - whereby he was seen catching rays and provisioning other members of the group. This clearly showed that he has survived his near demise and is contributing to the welfare of his fellow orca. We intend to assist every stranded orca we can and the Orca Rescue Mats are an important aspect of our Whale Rescue Kit. Thanks for your support because you have helped to save the next orca who strands! To give you an idea of the sorts of costs involved with rescuing an orca, Nobby's rescue had an estimated cost of over $6,000. This included the hire of equipment etc. Much of this cost was subsidised through discounts and offers of help and some donations, however this isn't always the case and the specialised equipment required to rescue an orca is sadly lacking around New Zealand. This is despite the fact that New Zealand has the highest rate of orca strandings around the world. Research from the Orca Research Trust has shown that the NZ orca hunt for rays in shallow waters and occasionally make mistakes, resulting in the individuals becoming stuck on the beach. There is nothing wrong with these orca as such, but horrific injuries can occur during the stranding (and rescue process). Orca with broken pectoral fins (the side fins) are not unheard of and there are also records of people attempting to get these animals off the beach by putting ropes around their tails and just pulling with a tractor - without any regard for the fact that the orca have no bones in their tail flukes and such pulling is not only going to damage the muscles and connective tissue but could even result in the tail being pulled completely off. Our mission statement encompasses not only the protection of these animals, but also education of the public. We believe that appropriate measures should be taken to ensure that rescues are conducted in a manner that best serves the orca (which are not necessarily the most cost effective measures) and as such are endeavouring to raise the funds to have these specifically designed rescue mats in place.

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Latest donations

Guest Donor
Guest Donor on 27 Jul 2021
In memory of baby Toa
Carla on 26 Jul 2021    Orca Research Trust
In memory of Orca baby Toa
Sue on 24 Jul 2021
In memory of Toa,
Kristina on 24 Jul 2021
In memory of little Toa, the baby Orca stranded in Plimmerton. Very sad to hear the news. Thank you to Dr Ingrid Visser, DOC, vets and all the dedicated volunteers for looking after Toa and our precious natural environment.
Guest Donor
Guest Donor on 18 Jul 2021

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