A community in Quebec's Far North wants Ottawa to quickly deploy an icebreaker to free about a dozen killer whales cornered under a vast stretch of sea ice.
Locals in Inukjuak are reporting that the mammals are gathering around one hole in the ice in a desperate bid to get oxygen.
Mayor Peter Inukpuk is urging the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to send an icebreaker as soon as possible to make additional holes in the ice to save the animals.
Inukpuk says a hunter from his village first spotted the trapped whales yesterday at the hole about 30 kilometres from town.
He says the opening in the Hudson Bay ice appears to be shrinking as it freezes over in the frigid temperatures.
One woman who visited the hole says the round gap in the ice was probably less than 10 metres in diameter and that the sometimes-frantic orcas were thrusting themselves skyward for air.