For at least two days, the fate of a group of eleven killer whales seemed grim as they languished to stay alive, apparently trapped beneath an ice sheet along the frigid Canadian coast. But now, after a favorable shifting of ice cover, it appears that the weakened animals have been freed.
With just a few-meters patch of open surface from which to breathe and their energy diminishing, the imperiled orcas garnered international attention after they were first spotted by two Inukjuak villagers earlier this week along the Hudson Bay.
It is believed that the pod of killer whales were feeding in the waters when an unexpected cold snap locked the ice around them. As the situation grew more dire, a team of locals readied chainsaws and drills in hopes of broadening their narrow confines.
It appears, however, that winds have since shifted the ice enough to free them from that spot.
"So as far as I could tell, the emergency, for sure, is averted," says Mark O'Connor, director of the regional marine wildlife board. "Whether the whales have found a passage all the way to the Hudson Strait, we probably will never know."