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From Canada's CTV: a screen image of one whale surfacing at the small hole where the pod could get air before it managed to escape its icy trap. (CTV.com)

Stranded Killer Whales Escape Ice Trap Near Hudson Bay

Jan 10, 2013

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Reported by

Korva Coleman

A pod of killer whales trapped in shifting ice near a remote northern Canadian village appears to be free.

A 'family' of orcas was stuck underneath ice in northern Quebec yesterday, with only a small opening for them to surface and breathe. There were about a dozen whales in the pod; each took turns to bob up in the Arctic water to snatch air and duck down again, notes ABC. They weren't able to swim far enough underneath the ice to reach open water.

As shown above in the video from CTV, the whales were stranded near the remote hamlet of Inukjuak, which lies just off the eastern shore of Hudson Bay; it's about 900 miles north of Montreal. The town's mayor, Peter Inukpuk, told the CBC community elders believe the whales got out overnight after the ice shifted following changing tides and a new moon.

The tiny opening the whales used for air was as small as a pickup truck, notes the Canadian Press. Town residents had originally urged the Canadian government to send an icebreaker to free the orcas. That request wasn't granted, but government specialists were supposed to fly to the town to evaluate the situation.

Residents used social media to call attention to the whales' plight, but it's not the first time the region has gotten media attention. The town, formerly known as Port Harrison, was the locale chosen by filmmakers who produced the 1922 documentary about Inuit life, Nanook of the North.

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