Whale enthusiasts and officials are watching a suffering pod of killer whales trapped in drift ice. The pod of around ten or 13 killer whales were seen poking their heads out of a small gap in the ice, Tuesday morning, around 8:30 am. They were discovered by a fisherman off the coast of Hokkaido in northern Japan.
Japanese public broadcaster, NKH, showed drone footage of the struggling pod of whales as they kept popping their heads out to breathe. The pod is about 1 km off the coast of Rausu. The fisherman who found the pod alerted the coast guards to help. Due to the thick ice, their efforts were in vain.
Seiichiro Tsuchiya, who is a marine life expert, filmed the pod using a drone. He was in the area researching the sea lion population. Tsuchiya said, “I saw about 13 killer whales with their heads sticking out of a hole in the ice. They seemed to be struggling to breathe, and it looked like they included three or four calves.” One of the officials said, “We have no choice but to wait for the ice to break up and for them to escape that way.”
Trapped Killer Whales in Japan
In 2005 a similar situation took the lives of nine whales. They were trapped and could not escape the drift ice. While orca whales can breathe for around 15 minutes under the water, extreme cold conditions and exhaustion can affect their survival rate. According to the news, these pods have already been trapped for over 12 hours. We hope that they make it through and don’t relive the 2005 tragedy.
In this region, the ice sheets can stretch over 650 miles, all the way to Russia. Due to a lack of winds, the ice sheets have not been moving, making the situation worse for the pod.
As the world watches the pod struggle and awaits more news, some are asking why more isn’t being done. Could ice-breaking ships not be used? Why not ask their neighbor, Russia, to aid in the efforts? While some want more to be done, others agree that this is part of nature and that we should not interfere. What are your thoughts? Will the killer whales trapped in the ice survive?
Update on Pod of Orcas in Japan
On Wednesday, the pod of killer whales in Japan was no longer stuck in the drift ice. Authorities believe that the pod was able to break free as the ice shifted. Ryoji Onuma said, “Although we can’t confirm for sure, I’m confident these whales have found their way out, made their way free from the ice. We certainly hope they have.”