A leader in a northern Quebec village says about a dozen killer whales that were trapped under sea ice appear to have reached safety as the floes shifted on Hudson Bay.
Tommy Palliser said two hunters from Inukjuak reported Thursday that the waters had opened up around the area where the cornered orcas had been bobbing frantically for air.
"They confirmed that the whales were no longer there and there was a lot of open water," said Palliser, a business adviser with the regional government.
The animals' predicament made international headlines and images of the orcas circulated via media around the world.
Locals say the mammals had been trapped around a single, pickup-truck-sized breathing hole for at least two days.
Palliser said the winds seemed to shift overnight, pushing the floating ice further away from the shore to open up the water.
"The wind started to pick up last night from the land, blowing into the bay," he said.
"The winds certainly make a lot of difference in terms of the ice conditions."
The cornered animals, first seen Tuesday, appeared to have less energy by late Wednesday, Palliser said. There were also fears the hole was shrinking after ice moved toward land and the water continued to freeze over.
Locals believe the recent sudden drop in temperature caught the orcas off guard, leaving them boxed in under the ice.