An orca calf has been separated from its pod and is now fending for its life in the fjords near Alsvåg, Norway.

The tiny orca was spotted just one metre from shore by Kristoffer Larsen early Saturday afternoon.

[Translated, Norwegian] "My partner and I were visiting my parents when I discovered that there was something at the water's edge," Larsen told Vesterålen Online. 

The calf appears to be very young, displaying the peachy-orange tint characteristic of baby orcas, who do not yet have thick blubber to insulate their blood vessels.

"It was the worst of all news," said orca expert Tiu Similä, who has coordinated the Norwegian Killer Whale Project (NORCA) for over 20 years. "I had hoped that it was reunited with his family." 

Newborn orca calves begin nursing immediately after birth and depend on their mother’s nutrient-rich milk for up to a year. Without intervention, or reuniting with the pod, the calf’s chances of survival are slim.

"The orca calf in Alsvåg cannot fend for itself," Similä explained. "As it has been without his [pod] at least five days now, it is probably pretty hungry and probably stressed."

Pods of orcas are often spotted off the waters near Bo, Norway, feeding on schools of herring.

"They are following the herring south. It is thus likely that the calf's pod is a good bit away," Similä said.

According to Vesterålen Online, the reason for the calf’s separation from the pod remains unknown, but Similä suspects the shallow-sand beach nearby may have interfered. 

"[Beaches] make echolocation, especially for inexperienced animals, difficult," she said. 

The ethical question is what to do next ... and that question has yet to be answered as researchers and locals scramble for options.

"We have been in contact with researchers in San Diego that [are] ready to send two veterinarians from Sweden to provide the necessary 'first aid' to the calf," said Richard Karoliussen, who works with a local whale-watching company.

Attempts are also being made to match the calf to its pod through photo-identification, and to locate a pod that could 'adopt' the orphaned calf.

"The question is whether it is appropriate [to relocate, given] how poor [a] condition the calf is [in], and whether it can be released with a new group," explained Karoliussen.

Our eyes remain on Norway for updates.