Twelve whales are caught in a death trap outside of a northern Quebec fishing village.
Since Monday, the killer whales have been stranded under thick layers of sea ice near the town of Inukjuak, on the northeastern coast of the Hudson Bay. They take turns breathing through a small breach in the ice, but one expert says that if immediate action isn’t taken to free them, the whales could suffocate or die from exhaustion.
“These are large animals competing for breathing space in a hole not much larger than your desk,” said Lyne Morisette, a marine ecologist and researcher at the Université de Québec à Rimouski. “We don’t have two weeks to manoeuvre here.”
About 25 km of ice separates the pod from open water, meaning it would take an ice breaking ship to open a path for them.
An Inuit hunter stumbled upon the whales earlier this week while tracking seals. killer whales are a rare sight in the Hudson Bay during winter, and the animals have drawn dozens of curious locals from Inukjuak — a one-hour snowmobile ride from the ice breach.
The Inuit seem perplexed as to what to do about the Orca.
“People have mixed feelings about the situation,” said Peter Inukpuk, the mayor of Inukjuak. “We want to see them free, but we also want them to go away. Killer whales eat seals and belugas. The seal hunt is a huge part of our economy.”
There are calls for icebreakers to be used:
An ice breaker could cost the federal government millions and there’s no guarantee the ship would arrive in time to save the killer whales — also known as orcas. But local leaders are urging the federal government to take action and help free the whales immediately.
“It would be utopian to assume the DFO is scrambling to get an icebreaking ship on site,” Morisette. “The government has cut funding to DFO just as they have with dozens of federal departments, so its tough to see them freeing up money for this. However, the fact the killer whales are an endangered species definitely helps their case.”
Uhmmm…not they aren’t..endangered that is…these ones might be but Killer Whales in general aren’t….they exist in every ocean in the world and have never been hunted. At worst they have only ever been graded as “conservation dependent“…which is the third safest rating.
It is estimated that there are 50,000 Killer Whales in the world…probably with a few less shortly, killed by the lack of global warming.