Efforts to save the stranded orca calf and reunite it with a pod has reached a "delicate stage" as stormy weather has halted air and sea searches for a second day.
The orca is believed to be between four and six months old and has been cared for around the clock after becoming stranded at Plimmerton Beach on Sunday afternoon.
Department of Conservation marine species manager Ian Angus told Checkpoint his team are talking to international experts about their options for baby orca Toa.
"They're basically saying, 'You might need to start planning for a scenario where the calf starts to deteriorate and have to start make some hard decisions about it.
"But we think we're far from that at the moment. But obviously at any point with a wild animal in the conditions it's been through, we might have to review that decision."
Angus could not give a timeline on that process.
He earlier said the efforts to save the calf - and reunite it with a pod "have now stretched beyond what would be normal for a marine mammal stranding and planning for a range of scenarios continues".
This morning the site was closed to the public for safety reasons as weather conditions are expected to worsen through the weekend.
Yesterday incoming swells and high winds along the coast compromised the search, and last night the orca had to be relocated offshore amid the incoming storm.
The orphan calf, named Toa, was lifted from the ocean into a portable pool overnight to protect it from the incoming swell.
The pool can hold 32,000 litres of sea water, and has been set up a small distance from where the orca has been kept since Sunday.
Whale Rescue said Toa is behaving "as well as can be expected" and showed no signs of stress in the transfer process.
Searches for orca pods have been halted for a second day, with boats and aircraft in the local area unable to get out due to the weather conditions.
Since the orca's stranding on Sunday there had been hopes to locate the calf's family pod, which was last sighted along the coast where the calf was beached.
A small number of orca sightings have been reported throughout the week, none of which were able to be verified as the orca's family pod.
The Kāpiti Districts Aero Club deployed two dedicated aircrafts each day this week until the weather turned.
Ian Angus today told Morning Report the animal had been "heavily compromised" as a result of the stranding and trauma.
However, vets said the orca was looking stable this morning after being transferred overnight into a portable pool.
"He had a feed last night, he's moving around so although we don't have a healthy individual, he is looking stable."
Angus said the orca had some lacerations on its body from being washed up on Sunday.
"We're doing everything we can to minimise the trauma ... given what it's been through."
Carolyn Press-McKenzie, who is the founder of the Helping You Help Animals Charitable Trust HUHA, told First Up Toa was in "really good health" and was eating well.
The orca is being fed a special whale brew made by Wellington Zoo. It receives four litres of the zoo brew every four hours, a mixture that includes herring and salmon oil that is "quite smelly but apparently very delicious".
She said the calf's mother was in and out of the rocks probably for stingray, and that's when Toa got pushed into the rocks. "Mum circled back around quite a few times looking for him and they left the bay."