Killer whales surface through a small hole in the ice near Inukjuak, Quebec, on Tuesday.(Photo: Marina Lacasse, The Canadian Press)
MONTREAL -- About a dozen killer whales that were trapped under
sea ice appeared to be free after the ice shifted, a leader of a
northern Canada village said Thursday.
The animals' predicament in
the frigid waters of Hudson Bay made international headlines, and
locals had been planning a rescue operation with chainsaws and drills.
MORE: Canadians rush to save 11 trapped killer whales
Palliser said two hunters from Inukjuak village reported that the
waters had opened up around the area where the cornered whales had been
bobbing frantically for air.
"They confirmed that the whales were
no longer there and there was a lot of open water," said Palliser, a
business adviser with the regional government.
"It's certainly good news - that's good news for the whales," he said.
said the whales had been trapped around a single, truck-sized breathing
hole for at least two days. A recent sudden drop in temperature may
have caught the whales off guard, leaving them trapped under the ice.
Palliser said the winds seemed to shift overnight, pushing the floating ice further away from the shore.
The cornered animals were first seen Tuesday and appeared to have less energy by late Wednesday, Palliser said.
Mayor Peter Inukpuk has said Canada's Department of Fisheries and
Oceans informed him that government icebreakers were too far from the
area to smash the ice to free the whales.
Palliser said locals had
agreed to try to enlarge the existing breathing hole and cut a second
opening using chainsaws and drills.
"We certainly had our prayers with them last night during our meeting," he said.
Ice-trapped marine mammals are not unusual in the region.