December 14th, 2011
08:59 AM ET

Belugas trapped in icy Arctic waters at risk of death

Prisoners in ice, more than 100 Beluga whales in far eastern Russia risk death unless rescued soon.

The flock of gentle, ghost-white whales were trapped in ice floes in the Sinyavinsky Strait off the Bering Sea near the village of Yanrakynnot, said a statement from the Chukotka Autonomous Region.

Fishermen reported that the whales were concentrated in two relatively small ice holes, where, for now, they can breathe freely. But the Belugas' chance of swimming back to water is slim due to the vast fields of ice over the strait.

The whales have little food and the ice flows are increasing, the statement said. They are at risk of rapid exhaustion, and ultimately, death by starvation or suffocation. Trapped whales are also susceptible to predators like polar bears and killer whales.

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Filed under: Russia • Whales • World
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