An orca trapped in a crayfish line in Whāngārei Harbour has not been able to be freed today, and if it's not released may die in as little as a few days.
The young adult male dolphin became wrapped in a crayfish line with a buoy attached off Tutukaka on Monday morning.
Dr Ingrid Visser from the Orca Research Trust followed him on a boat today with a team and twice unsuccessfully tried to untangle him.
"Eventually he went into shallow enough water... We managed to hook him up twice but unfortunately he broke free from the hook and we weren't able to cut the line free," Dr Visser said.
She siad he swum off into deeper water and they aren't able to track his movements overnight, so will try find him tomorrow.
"The way the line is tangled around his pectoral fin will eventually cut the whole fin off. That's incredibly painful for him, and it can also cause infection. He's probably going to die from it.
"When he swims forward, the craypot line is pulling against the buoy, so the pressure of him swimming keeps cutting into his flesh."
She said if the fin is lost he could die either from an infection or a sustained loss of blood.
"There's a very high probability that he will die if we can't get the line off... It could be a matter of days or a matter of weeks. Regardless it's incredibly painful for him."
Dr Visser said his pod will still be nearby but have had to go looking for food. A group of around 20 had been supporting and comforting him by touching his side.
People that spot any Orcas in the area are asked to call 0800 SEE ORCA.
Dr Visser said thanks to the members of the public who called in this morning, and the Coastguard and Department of Conservation who've both helped efforts to free him.