Killer whales trapped in Canadian sea ice, community seeks help

Jan 9 (Reuters) - Several killer whales are trapped and at

times panicking in the sea ice of Hudson Bay, and a local mayor

is calling on the Canadian government to send an icebreaker to

save them.

The whales are taking turns breathing through a hole in the

ice about the size of a pickup truck in the frigid waters near

the remote Inuit community of Inukjuak, Quebec.

"They are trapped," the community's mayor, Peter Inukpuk,

told CBC radio on Wednesday. "It appears from time to time that

they panic. Other times they are gone for a long time, probably

looking for another open space, which they are not able to find

at the moment."

He said a hunter first spotted the whales on Tuesday. There

are 11 whales, including several small ones, which could mean

they are all from the same family, the mayor said.

Inukpuk said it was unusual to see the killer whales in the

area in January but he noted that the waters were late to freeze

this year.

Inukpuk said they've asked the Canadian government to send

an icebreaker as their community of 1,800 people was not

equipped to save the whales.

The Canadian government's Fisheries and Oceans department

has dispatched specialists to the site to determine what course

of action, if anything, could be taken, according to Frank

Stanek, a spokesman for the department.

He said the department was "assessing the situation and

exploring every possible option."

(Reporting By Russ Blinch; Editing by Sandra Maler)