Update: The orcas are free!
Right now a dozen killer whales off the coast of Inukjuak, Quebec are fighting for their lives. Just days ago the bay froze leaving the orcas only one small hole in the ice to take turns breathing. Unless an icebreaker comes to help the orcas, their future looks grim.
Ocean advocate Richard Branson blogged today asking Canadian officials to step up and help the struggling whales. He wrote, “Fisheries and Oceans Canada are sending a team to evaluate the situation today – we urge them to act decisively and save these beautiful creatures before it is too late. You can sign a petition calling for the authorities to act now to save the orcas.”
According to CBC News, the mayor of the local inuit village, Peter Inukpuk, asked for help. He said, “It’s only been two days that the bay froze up. It’s not thick, thick as in previous years. I am sure an icebreaker could come up and open a route for them.” He continued, “We are not equipped to give assistance to those killer whales. We would need outside help to get them to safety.”
Orcas are not usually seen this far north in winter. Christian Ramp, a researcher with Mingan Island Cetacean Study, noted that orcas usually follow their prey to warmer waters during the winter. However, climate change might be altering their patterns. Ramp said, “It seems the ice dynamics are changing very quickly. Suddenly a huge expanse of open water is clogged up, and they miss the chance to get to open water. The risk is that the hole freezes up, and they basically just drown.”
Take a moment to sign the petition or get in touch directly with Fisheries and Oceans Canada by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
See below for the footage of the whales as they take turns breathing.