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Pod of orcas appear trapped by sea ice in Japan

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A pod of at least 10 orcas appear to be trapped by sea ice off the coast of Japan’s northern Hokkaido island.

Japanese Coast Guard officials say they were notified of the group of killer whales by local fishers Tuesday morning, public broadcaster NHK reported.

Video shared online shows the animals struggling between the ice. Local weather officials say the ice may have immobilized the animals in the water after waves froze on sheets of floating ice, the outlet reported.

Wildlife Pro LLC, a local wildlife organization, shared drone footage that showed the animals between the ice flows. The organization said it encounters the whales while doing marine research.

“We have no choice but to wait for the ice to break up and for them to escape that way,” a local official told NHK, reported by CNN.

Local officials said orcas were trapped in a similar way in 2005 and most of the animals reportedly died. Rescuers can’t make it near the whales now because of the ice flows and hope the animals can free themselves.

The sea ice in the area is the lowest latitude sea ice in the world and is in the Hokkaido area every year but has declined as global warming is accelerated, CNN reported.

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