Freed orcas not out of harm’s way

The killer whales trapped in the ice in northern Quebec appear to have left the area, but they may not be out of harm’s way yet.Lyne Morissette, a marine researcher with the St. Lawrence Global Observatory, said the ice can move quickly, and while a split in the ice opened a pathway for the whales, the orcas are still inside the ice-covered Hudson Bay.

According to Morissette, the whales still have over 100 kilometres to travel before they are in the open waters of the North Atlantic Ocean.

She said they may be able to survive in Hudson Bay for the winter, but it won’t be easy.

If the whale pod doesn`t make it, she said it would be a significant loss for the northern whale population.

On Wednesday, residents of an Inuit village called for the government’s help to save a dozen killer whales trapped in the ice about 30 kilometres off the coast of Inukjuak, Que.

The orcas were spotted at a breathing hole at the eastern top of Hudson Bay.

When two hunters, Jobie Epoo and Jamisee Weetaluktuk, went to check the ice before 8 am ET on Thursday, they discovered the whales were gone. They called the local radio station to let them know the orcas were out of sight.

A group of 22 local men had been getting ready to go out to the site and see what they could do to help the whales reach open water.

Epoo said the plan was to make that hole larger and create another hole about 45 metres away, by sawing and drilling in the ice.

“It was a very dangerous area,” Epoo said. “We’re talking about flowing ice, moving ice — continuously, constantly moving ice — and depending on the time of the month, you never know when the ice is going to decide to go.”

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