You are here: HomeRescues → 1998, November 23, Orca, Noises Islands, Hauraki Gulf

A full necropsy (animal autopsy) was conducted on this sub-adult female in association with vets Pa Duignan and Paul Proseé.  It wasn't until the very last few minutes of the necropsy that it was discovered that this orca had probably died from the penetration of a stingray spine - either through loss of blood when it may have pierced a blood vessel, or through an acute reaction to the toxins related to the spine.  The full results from this event were published in the following paper: Duignan, P. J., Hunter, J. E. B., Visser, I. N., Jones, G. W., & Nutman, A. (2000). Stingray spines: A potential cause of killer whale mortality in New Zealand. Aquatic Mammals, 26(2), 143-147., which is available at the Orca Research Trust website (

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Quick Facts

Name Orca (killer whale)
Orca (killer whale)
Suborder Odontoceti
Family Delphinidae
Max. size - Male 9.8 m (32 ft)
Max. size - Female 8.5 m (27.8 ft)
Calf size 2.1-2.6 m (6.8-8.5 ft)
Max. weight - Male 10,000 kg
Max. weight - Female 7,500 kg
Calf weight 160-180 kg
Food various, depending on which population of orca you are discussing (e.g., New Zealand is primarily rays and sharks, Norway is primarily herring)
Latin name Orcinus orca
Location The Noises Islands, Hauraki Gulf
Latitude -36.68507
Longitude 174.96333
Number of Whales 1
At this rescue

Dr. Ingrid N. Visser – Whale Rescue Co-Founder

Dr. Ingrid N. Visser – Whale Rescue Co-Founder

Ingrid has attended numerous mass and individual strandings.  She is experienced in sampling and data collection at these events, and in the use of refloatation Rescue Pontoons and other rescue equipment.  She has served on the Board and was a trainer for another stranding rescue group.


With special thanks to

To Auckland Coastguard for their assistance in locating the carcass and securing it at Motutapu Island.  Department of Conservation faciliated the permission for the necropsy to be performed at the island.

Location of Rescue

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