A pod of killer whales becomes trapped in ice off the coast of northern Japan

A group of approximately 15 orcas has been trapped in drifting ice off the coast of the Shiretoko peninsula, in Hokkaido (northern Japan), according to the town's coast guard.

A fisherman noticed on Tuesday morning that an orca was struggling to get out of between ice floes approximately one kilometer off the coast of the town of Rausu and the NGO Wild Pro LLC confirmed minutes later that there were more animals trapped: “A video captured by a drone confirms that there are 13 of them,” it published on X.

Total, 15 orcas were sightedAs confirmed today to EFE by the NGO, which described the situation as sad, but the thickness of the ice prevents helping these mammals, since the coast guard boats cannot get close enough.

Seiichiro Tsuchiya, a member of Wild Pro LLC, found the mammals while researching the local sea lion population in the area and said, “It looked like they were having difficulty breathing and there were three or four pups.”

“We have no choice but to wait for the ice to break and the orcas to escape,” said the authorities of the town of Rausu in statements reported by the public broadcaster NHK.

An inspection in the area carried out this Wednesday has not confirmed the presence of the orcas in the place where they were sightedto which the Rausu authorities said: “We hope they managed to escape”, although further details of the situation of the cetaceans are unknown.

Professor of marine mammals at the Tokyo University of Agriculture Mari Kobayashi explained in statements to the national news agency Kyodo that orcas, in order to protect their calves, can end up slowly dying of exhaustion.

In 2005, an orca was trapped on an ice floe on the Shiretoko Peninsula, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its fauna.