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Locals say shifting sea ice frees trapped whales

| Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, 7:16 a.m.
REUTERS
Three killer whales surface through a breathing hole in the ice of Hudson Bay near the community of Inukjuak, Quebec, on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013. The three whales are part of a pod of several that are trapped in the sea ice of the Hudson Bay. The whales are taking turns breathing through a hole in the ice about the size of a pickup truck. Inukjuak's mayor has called upon the Canadian government to send an icebreaker to save them. Maggie Okituk | Reuters
Killer whales surface through a small hole in the ice near Inukjuak, in Northern Quebec on Tuesday, Jan. 8. The Canadian Press
A killer whale surfaces through a small hole in the ice near Inukjuak, in Northern Quebec on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013. Mayor Peter Inukpuk urged the Canadian government Wednesday to send an icebreaker as soon as possible to crack open the ice and help the pod of about a dozen trapped orcas find open water. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans said it is sending officials to assess the situation. The Canadian Press

MONTREAL — A Canadian village leader says about a dozen killer whales that were trapped under sea ice appear to have reached safety after the floating ice shifted on Hudson Bay.

Tommy Palliser said Thursday that two hunters from Inukjuak village reported the water had opened up around the area where the cornered whales had been bobbing frantically for air.

Locals said the mammals had been trapped around a single, truck-sized breathing hole for at least two days.

Palliser says villagers had been planning to launch a rescue operation Thursday.

But he says the winds seemed to shift overnight, pushing the floating ice further away from shore to open up the water.

Mayor Peter Inukpuk had urged the Canadian government to send an icebreaker.

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