The year has got off to a great start for a marine biologist, who has spotted an orca in Tutukaka in Northland that she had rescued a decade ago.

Ingrid Visser helped to free Diane after she was entangled in cray pot fishing lines in 2014.

Visser said it was amazing to see the whale doing well 10 years on.

“That was really exciting to see that she was still out there and doing her thing with her family.”

She said in 2014, her two calves were helping to keep her alive before help came.

“They were helping to lift the cray pot up so she could get up and to the surface, take a breath and then she would sink back down again, and by the time we arrived, the calves were really exhausted, and she was too.

“So to see her now, 10 years on, and she’s doing okay is really amazing.”

Visser, who has spent more than 30 years documenting and protecting orcas, said moments like these kept her going in her work.

“When you see these animals that you’ve rescued and you see them years and years later and they’re still out there doing their orca thing – whether that’s hunting sting rays or hunting sharks or you know travelling around the coastline – that to me is the significance of being able to help these animals and protect them is really quite a rewarding thing.”

Some Orcas were getting injured by vessels, Visser said.

“We have had a few mishaps with incidents like boat strike where they’ve been hit by vessels because people are driving too close to them, all desperately trying to get their own selfies and not taking the time to think about the fact that the animals need to be able to manoeuvre in shallow waters.”

She said like Diane, orcas were also sometimes still getting caught in cray pot fishing line.

New Zealand had fewer than 200 orcas around its coastline and anyone who saw one in trouble should call 0800 SEE ORCA, Visser said.

Orcas, also known as killer whales, are actually the largest member of the dolphin family.

rnz.co.nz

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