11 Killer Whales Free after Being 'Locked' in Ice

Eleven killer whales that were "locked in" by ice in a Canadian bay, with only a small area of open water for them to surface, are now apparently free, possibly due to a change in current that helped break open a path to the sea, the mayor of a nearby village said Thursday.

Two scouts sent to check on the killer whales around 8 a.m. local time found a passage of water had been created in Hudson Bay all of the way to the open sea - nearly 25 miles away -- and the ice hole that the animals had been trapped in was empty, said Petah Inukpuk, mayor of Inukjuak, an Inuit village home to 1,800, in Quebec.

"They are free. They are no longer here. When there is a new moon, the water current is activated. It could have helped ... completely trap them, but in this case it caused an open passage out to the open water," he told NBC News, adding that they probably freed themselves overnight. "It was mother nature that helped them. ... They are no longer icelocked."

A hunter had found the killer whales, also known as orcas, on Wednesday morning in the bay in northeastern Canada. Two of the orcas appeared to be adults; the remaining nine were smaller in size, said Inukpuk. Other reports said there were 12 orcas in the pod.

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