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Published January 09 2013

Quebec community makes urgent request for help saving trapped killer whales

MONTREAL — A community in Quebec's Far North is calling for outside help to free about a dozen killer whales trapped under a vast stretch of sea ice.

Locals in Inukjuak said the mammals have gathered around a single hole in the ice — slightly bigger than a pickup truck — in a desperate bid to get oxygen.

Mayor Peter Inukpuk urged the Canadian government Wednesday to send an icebreaker as soon as possible to crack open the ice and help them find open water. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans said it is sending officials to assess the situation.

“Fisheries and Oceans Canada is assessing the situation and are exploring every possible option, but will only be in a position to determine what - if anything - can be done once our specialists arrive on site,” spokesman Frank Stanek said in a statement.

A hunter first spotted the pod of about a dozen trapped whales Tuesday at the hole, which is on the eastern shore of the Hudson Bay. Inukjuak is about 900 miles north of Montreal.