Weekend Herald

Baby orca Toa’s story shows the good in us


This week we watched on as a massive search was carried out for the family of a baby orca who was wretchedly separated from his pod near Wellington over the weekend.

While the search went on, Department of Conservati­on Whale Rescue and volunteers cared for the calf — believed to be between 4 and 6 months old and given the name Toa for courage — who had been found stranded at Plimmerton on Sunday afternoon.

Many of us would have struggled to suppress a happy grin at the news that veterinary checks found the orca calf in good health and that he was taking to a milk formula over the first few days to boost his nutrition.

By Thursday, more reported sightings of orca pods had search crews in the Wellington region scouring the water from air, although strong winds meant a reunion was unlikely, even if the pod could be located.

Meanwhile, Google was turning up 43.5 million results to the search “Toa the orca” and about 6000 news articles had been created online about the estranged sea creature.

Toa has now been moved to a 32,000-litre pool, organised by the Orca Research Trust, while we wait for the weather to clear and the search for his pod to resume.

A natural reunificat­ion is unlikely as his cries are unlikely to be heard further away than 1km while he is in the pool.

Why we care is what makes us human. That we care is heartening in a society so often decried for callousnes­s and selfishnes­s. No, we are not, and our response to the plight of Toa the orca proves that.

All we need now is the perfect, storybook ending.

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