Statement from MPI on orca death

Media contact: Media team
Telephone: 029 894 0328

On 6 December 2017 a dead female orca was brought up in the net of a deepwater trawl vessel 30 nautical miles northeast of Banks Peninsula.

An MPI observer onboard the vessel took images and a tissue sample before the orca was returned to the sea as required. The orca had suffered several deep lacerations, however it is not clear what caused those injuries. Initial analysis suggests they are inconsistent with either propeller strike, or injuries caused by the net.

While the incident is very concerning, orca captures are not common. MPI has only one previous recorded orca capture, which was in 1990.

MPI and the Department of Conservation (DOC) will continue to work with mammal experts to assess the incident and attempt to establish the cause of death.

Last reviewed: