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Shifting sea ice frees trapped killer whales

LAST UPDATED: 05:31 a.m. HST, Jan 10, 2013

MONTREAL » A Canadian village leader says about a dozen killer whales that were trapped under sea ice appear to have reached safety after the floating ice shifted on Hudson Bay.

Tommy Palliser said today that two hunters from Inukjuak village reported the water had opened up around the area where the cornered whales had been bobbing frantically for air.

Locals said the mammals had been trapped around a single, truck-sized breathing hole for at least two days.

Palliser says villagers had been planning to launch a rescue operation today.

But he says the winds seemed to shift overnight, pushing the floating ice further away from shore to open up the water.

Mayor Peter Inukpuk had urged the Canadian government to send an icebreaker.

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 900 miles north of Montreal.

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.

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.

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Hapa_Haole_Boy wrote:
Dude, leave the polar bear alone! Jeez.
on January 9,2013 | 01:52PM
Hapa_Haole_Boy wrote:
Anyone remember the nature specials called Planet Earth and/or Blue Planet? It had a segment on just this situation. Eventually polar bears caught on and began going for the orcas as they surfaced. Pretty trippy segment. Nature at work....
on January 9,2013 | 01:54PM
kk808 wrote:
It was very interesting...but I think they were beluga whales.
on January 10,2013 | 11:05AM
thebostitch wrote:
Where is Global Warming when you need it?
on January 10,2013 | 03:04AM
kiragirl wrote:
Great news! The ice shifted so the orcas found freedom. Too bad for the polar bear as curiosity got it killed by an uneducated wildman.
on January 10,2013 | 05:21AM
jomama wrote:
yeah, you're right. Those Inuit know nothing about the Arctic.
on January 10,2013 | 06:43AM
st1d wrote:
nice. insult the inuit intuit for fresh food and new clothing. arctic circle of life.
on January 10,2013 | 07:24AM
st1d wrote:
nice. insult inuit intuit for fresh food and clothing. arctic circle of life.
on January 10,2013 | 07:27AM
all_fed_up wrote:
This "uneducated wildman" knows how fresh is meat is. Do You!!!
on January 10,2013 | 07:34AM
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