The sight of about a dozen killer whales struggling to breathe under the ice near the Inuit village of Inukjuaq in Quebec has horrified animal-loving Internet users — and partially due to an online outcry, help from the Canadian government appears to be on the way.
The Montreal Gazette reports that the animals, rumored to number about 13, have been trapped in a small break in the ice since Monday, igniting debate among Inukjuaq citizens as to what to do about them.
Read more from GlobalPost: Killer whale mothers love their sons, maybe too much
“People here have mixed feelings about the situation,” said village mayor Sarollie Weetalutuk to the Gazette, who observed that such sightings of the whales in the winter are extremely rare.
“We want to see them free but we also want them to go away," he added. "Killer whales eat seals and belugas. The seal hunt is a huge part of our economy.”
Almost certain to die without human help, locals have attempted to chip some ice away from the hole but without much success. They have also shot a polar bear which came sniffing around the distressed animals, wrote the Times Colonist.
Video of the distressed whales was posted to Youtube this week and quickly aroused the horror of animal-loving Internet users, who proceeded to pressure Fisheries and Oceans Canada and various international celebrities to help the animals escape, wrote Digital Journal.com.
Here are some of the more interesting Twitter responses to the wildlife drama (many regarding a rather widely-held belief that the welfare of killer whales may be more important than Brian Burke of the Maple Leaf's hockey team)
Read more from GlobalPost: White killer whale spotted near Russia (VIDEO)
CBC Canada reports that a government team of experts is expected to arrive in Inukjuak on Thursday to assist with the situation.
Killer whales, also known as orcas, are one of the largest and most intelligent predators on the planet, and can grow to lengths of 32 feet, with a 6-ton weight. Social creatures, these long-lived whales live in family groups that hunt together, such as the pod currently in danger in Quebec.
UPDATE: Killer whales trapped in ice have been freed