Killer whales trapped in Quebec sea ice (Update)

Jan 09, 2013
In this Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013 photo provided by Marina Lacasse, killer whales surface through a small hole in the ice near Inukjuak, in Northern Quebec. Mayor Peter Inukpuk urged the Canadian government Wednesday to send an icebreaker as soon as possible to crack open the ice and help the pod of about a dozen orcas find open water. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans said it is sending officials to assess the situation. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Marina Lacasse)

A community in Quebec's Far North is calling for outside help to free about a dozen killer whales trapped under a vast stretch of sea ice.

Locals in Inukjuak said the mammals have gathered around a single hole in the ice—slightly bigger than a pickup truck—in a desperate bid to get oxygen.

Mayor Peter Inukpuk urged the Canadian government Wednesday to send an icebreaker as soon as possible to crack open the ice and help them find open water. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans said it is sending officials to assess the situation.

In this Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013 photo provided by Marina Lacasse, a killer whale surfaces through a small hole in the ice near Inukjuak, in Northern Quebec. Mayor Peter Inukpuk urged the Canadian government Wednesday to send an icebreaker as soon as possible to crack open the ice and help the pod of about a dozen trapped orcas find open water. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans said it is sending officials to assess the situation. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Marina Lacasse)

"Fisheries and Oceans Canada is assessing the situation and are exploring every possible option, but will only be in a position to determine what—if anything—can be done once our specialists arrive on site," spokesman Frank Stanek said in a statement.

A hunter first spotted the pod of about a dozen trapped whales Tuesday at the hole, which is on the eastern shore of the Hudson Bay. Inukjuak is about 1,500 kilometers (900 miles) north of Montreal.

In this Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013 photo provided by Marina Lacasse, killer whales surface through a small hole in the ice near Inukjuak, in Northern Quebec. Mayor Peter Inukpuk urged the Canadian government Wednesday to send an icebreaker as soon as possible to crack open the ice and help the pod of about a dozen trapped orcas find open water. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans said it is sending officials to assess the situation. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Marina Lacasse)

Dozens of villagers made the one-hour snowmobile ride Tuesday to see the unusual spectacle. They snapped photos and shot video footage of the killer whales surfacing in the opening—and even thrusting themselves skyward while gasping for air.

One woman who made the journey to the gap in the ice said even a curious polar bear approached the hole amid the commotion. Siasie Kasudluak said the bear was shot by a local hunter for its meat.

In this Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013 photo provided by Marina Lacasse, people watch as a killer whale surfaces through a small hole in the ice near Inukjuak, in Northern Quebec. Mayor Peter Inukpuk urged the Canadian government Wednesday to send an icebreaker as soon as possible to crack open the ice and help the pod of about a dozen orcas find open water. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans said it is sending officials to assess the situation. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Marina Lacasse)

The trapped orcas appeared to be in distress, but locals were ill-equipped to help out.

Kasudluak said the hole appeared to be shrinking in the freezing temperatures. Inukpuk believes the sudden drop in temperature recently caught the orcas off guard, leaving them boxed in under the ice.

Explore further: Cat dentals fill you with dread?

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Over 100 Beluga whales 'trapped in Bering Sea'

Dec 14, 2011

Over 100 Beluga whales are trapped in water between ice floes in the Chukotka region of Russia's Far East, the authorities said, calling on the government to send an ice-breaker to free them.

What do killer whales eat in the Arctic?

Jan 30, 2012

Killer whales (Orcinus orca) are the top marine predator, wherever they are found, and seem to eat everything from schools of small fish to large baleen whales, over twice their own size. The increase in hun ...

Bowhead whales using the Northwest Passage

Sep 22, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- According to a new study published in Biology Letters, the climate changes and melting of ice in the Northwest Passage are leading to the mingling of two bowhead whale populations that have b ...

Recommended for you

Cat dentals fill you with dread?

19 hours ago

A survey published this year found that over 50% of final year veterinary students in the UK do not feel confident either in discussing orodental problems with clients or in performing a detailed examination of the oral cavity ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

grondilu
5 / 5 (1) Jan 09, 2013
comment to be removed please