Canada
Trapped whales free from ice: Reports

Three killer whales surface through a breathing hole in the ice of Hudson Bay near the community of Inukjuak, Quebec January 9, 2013.

QMI AGENCY

A group of killer whales trapped in the ice of Hudson Bay are now free, according to reports.

A shift wind overnight aparently pushed the ice away from shore giving the whales room to swim free.

"We had strong wind coming in from the northeast late last night and it cracked a huge section of the ice," nearby Inukjuak's city manager Johnny Williams told the Montreal Gazette. "The whales are gone now, and we're pretty happy about that."

For two days, the whales could be seen taking turns breathing through a hole in the ice about the size of a pickup truck in the frigid waters near the remote Inuit community of Inukjuak, Quebec.

"They are trapped," the community's mayor, Peter Inukpuk, told CBC radio on Wednesday. "It appears from time to time that they panic. Other times they are gone for a long time, probably looking for another open space, which they are not able to find at the moment."

He said a hunter first spotted the whales on Tuesday. There were 11 whales, including several small ones, which could mean they were all from the same family, the mayor said.

Inukpuk said it was unusual to see the killer whales in the area in January but he noted that the waters were late to freeze this year.

Inukpuk had asked the federal government to send an icebreaker as the community of 1,800 people was not equipped to save the whales.

Fisheries and Oceans had dispatched specialists to the site.

- ­with files from Reuters

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