A pod of about a dozen orcas has reportedly escaped to open water in northern Quebec, after several days of mounting worldwide concern about their fate amid encroaching ice.
The orcas were first spotted on Tuesday morning by an Inuk hunter from the village of Inukjuak. They were surfacing in a breathing hole surrounded by sea ice at the eastern top of Hudson Bay. By the following day, local residents reported that the hole was shrinking and that the whales' plight seemed desperate.
"It appears from time to time that they panic," said Inukjuak mayor Peter Inukpuk. "Other times they are gone for a long time, probably looking for another open space, which they are not able to find."
"It is difficult to go near the ice since the waves from the whales are making it impossible," added Inukjuak city managerJohnny Williams. "The breathing hole is getting smaller and smaller. Their whole body jumps up for air."