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Killer Whales Trapped in Ice Free Themselves

Local officials had warned that orcas were running out of time

By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 10, 2013 6:36 AM CST | Updated Jan 10, 2013 10:08 AM CST
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(Newser) – The killer whales trapped in encircling ice 19 miles off the coast of northwestern Quebec have apparently freed themselves, reports the CBC. Officials had earlier warned that the pod was in danger. The dozen whales were discovered trapped in the ice Tuesday by an Inukjuak hunter, and cold weather had since shrunk the hole they were using to breathe. "It appears from time to time that they panic," said the local mayor. "Other times they are gone for a long time, probably looking for another open space, which they are not able to find." Now, he says the whales appear to have left, and adds that community elders say the ice shifted thanks to changing currents and the new moon.

A Department of Fisheries and Oceans official said it is not unusual for marine mammals to get caught in freezing ice sheets, but social media is only now allowing word to spread from these isolated northern villages to the rest of the world. Killer whales don't usually travel to icy waters, and wildlife experts think warming oceans allowed them to go further north than they usually would. The mayor had pleaded for outside help in the form of an icebreaker ship, and experts were said to have been on the way.

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