Dead orca found at Northland beach

Deceased orca on Mangawhai Beach in Northland (Dean Whitehead / Newshub.)
Deceased orca on Mangawhai Beach in Northland (Dean Whitehead / Newshub.)

A second female orca in less than a week has died after being washed up.

It's believed the whale got into trouble while hunting for food but by the time she was discovered on a Northland beach, it was too late.

It's a sight even the most seasoned marine experts find distressing.

"I got the call at 7am this morning that someone walking on the beach had found the orca and she was already dead," says orca expert Ingrid Visser.

"I suspect what happened was she came on to the beach hunting for stingrays and tragically she made a mistake and got stuck in the surf and she's died. It's very sad."

The orca is thought to have been part of a pod spotted early this week in Whangerai Harbour and Waipu Cove.

Sadly, Ms Visser believes she also recently gave birth.

"It's totally natural, the way that it happened. It's normal for New Zealand orca to hunt in the shallows like this, it's a very high risk behaviour," she says.

On Monday, another killer whale was discovered stranded on the Taranaki coast. Despite a valiant rescue effort by dozens of locals and the Department of Conservation, she too died.

New Zealand has the highest rate of strandings in the world.

Ms Visser will perform an autopsy on the whale to confirm its cause of death.

Her only hope now is the orca's calf will survive without its mother.