by Staff Writers
Ottawa (AFP) Jan 10, 2013
Hold the icebreaker! Eleven killer whales facing imminent danger after getting trapped by ice in Hudson Bay on Canada's Arctic shore managed to free themselves Thursday.
"Mother Nature freed them," Peter Inukpuk, mayor of Inukjuak, told AFP, explaining that the new moon overnight had shifted currents and swept the two adult whales and nine smaller ones into open waters.
Video posted on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's website on Wednesday had showed the giant sea mammals trapped, taking turns to breathe by popping up through a small patch of open water amid fields of white ice.
Tommy Palliser, from the small Inuit village of Inukjuak, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) from where the whales were trapped, had said the hole was shrinking, threatening the whales with suffocation.
The Canadian federal government had planned to send a team of experts on Thursday to investigate whether and how the whales can be saved.
Inukpuk had previously called for the government to send an icebreaker to create a route for the whales to open water.
It should be possible, he told CBC, saying the Hudson Bay had only frozen over two days earlier and the ice is "not thick, thick as in previous years."
He told the public broadcaster the whales had appeared to be aware of their predicament.
"It appears from time to time that they panic," he said.
"Other times they are gone for a long time, probably looking for another open space, which they are not able to find."
But a department of fisheries official said it would be costly and complicated to send an icebreaker -- since the ships with reinforced hulls are being used extensively and are not nearby.
And even if one was sent, it may not have arrived in time.
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