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2013年1月10日 (木)

シャチが氷に閉じ込められて(ケベック州)

 ケベックの北のハドソン湾で、12頭からなるシャチの群れが氷に閉じ込められているのが
見つかった。湾は、2日前に氷で閉ざされたということで、シャチたちがいる氷の割れ目も
徐々に縮んでいっているようだ。このまま氷が張っていけば、シャチたちは逃げ場を失って
溺死してしまうだろう。
 砕氷船による救出が求められるが、氷の張り始めの期間、砕氷船は多忙であり、またお金も
かかる。カナダ政府の対応が気になるところである。
 記事最後にも言及されているが、2005年の羅臼の悲劇の再現はぜひとも回避して
もらいたいものである。

http://www.cbc.ca/m/touch/news/story/2013/01/09/north-inukjuak-orcas-trapped.html

Killer whales trapped as ice hole shrinks in northern Quebec
Federal team of experts to arrive Thursday to try to help orcas
CBC News
Posted: Jan 9, 2013 9:17 AM ET
Last Updated: Jan 9, 2013 6:58 PM ET
Video

Killer whales trapped in ice A dozen orcas share a small patch of open
water on Hudson Bay near Inukjuaq, Que. Watch: 0:40

A dozen killer whales trapped in the ice about 30 kilometres off the
coast of Inukjuak, Que., could be in imminent danger, as a local Inuk
who visited them late Wednesday afternoon said the small patch of open
water which the whales are sharing is already shrinking.

Twelve orcas were spotted at the breathing hole at the eastern top of
Hudson Bay by an Inukjuak hunter Tuesday. The federal government is
sending a team of experts tomorrow to evaluate whether they can be
saved.
>>>
>>> Tommy Palliser, who travelled from Inukjuak to visit the whales late
>>> Wednesday, said he observed that the hole is already markedly smaller,
>>> and he's concerned the wind appeared to be pushing the ice closer to the
>>> shore.
>>> Bay froze just 2 days ago, mayor says
>>>
>>> Earlier Wednesday, Peter Inukpuk, mayor of the small Inuit village,
>>> called on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to send out an
icebreaker to help the whales.

"It's only been two days that the bay froze up," Inukpuk said. "It's not
thick, thick as in previous years. I am sure an icebreaker could come up
and open a route for them."
>>>
>>> "We are not equipped to give assistance to those killer whales," said
the mayor. "We would need outside help to get them to safety."

He conjectured that the pod, consisting of two adults and a number of
younger whales, could be a single family. He said it's clear that the
whales are in trouble.

"It appears from time to time that they panic," said Inukpuk. "Other
times they are gone for a long time, probably looking for another open
space, which they are not able to find."

Martha Asudluak, 21, hitched a ride on a snowmobile Wednesday morning to
go out to see them.

"I saw the big head popping out of the waters ... I couldn't believe
what I was seeing," she said, adding she got to about three metres away
from the water's edge.

"They kind of looked like they needed help," she said. "They're sharing
this small little hole. They were probably searching for a way to go
out, but at the moment they have no other choice but to stay there
because it's all ice — all over."

Asudluak says she feels blessed to have been able to see the whales, but
she also wants them to be freed as soon as possible.
DFO evaluating the situation

A spokeswoman for the DFO, Nathalie Letendre, said it's not unusual for
marine mammals to become trapped in ice.

"With the social media, it's just another tool to be aware of what
happens in the northern part of Quebec," said Letendre.

Whale expert Christian Ramp, a researcher with the Quebec-based Mingan
Island Cetacean Study, agreed.

"Ice entrapment is the main cause of mortality in many species," Ramp
said.

He said what makes this case unique is that it could be the first
sighting of killer whales in the Canadian Arctic in January.

Unlike narwhals, belugas and bowheads, orcas are not an ice-loving
species, Ramp said, following their prey north during the summer months
but retreating before the ice moves in.

He said with climate change, it appears the animals are straying further
and further north — and perhaps, staying too long.

"It seems the ice dynamics are changing very quickly," said Ramp.
"Suddenly a huge expanse of open water is clogged up, and they miss the
chance to get to open water.

"The risk is that the hole freezes up, and they basically just drown."

Ramp said from what he has observed on a video posted to YouTube, it
does appear the whales are agitated.

"They seem to breathe very frequently — a sign they're under stress," he
said. "They're definitely not chill."
Icebreakers expensive and far away

The DFO's Letendre said her department's team of experts is evaluating
the situation, looking at the number and health of the whales, the state
of the ice and the proximity of the whales to open water.

The team is expected to arrive in Inukjuak tomorrow, and Letendre said
the experts will consult with the community before any course of action
is undertaken.

Sending in icebreakers might be one option, Letendre said, but it's an
expensive one that could prove logistically difficult.

"Presently, the icebreakers are really busy with the ice conditions that
we have in other regions of our country," Letendre said. "In the Quebec
region, the icebreakers are working on the Saint Lawrence River. Just
this week, three commercial ships were stuck in the ice in the Matane
area."

Sending in icebreakers would likely take a political decision, Ramp
suggested, and in any case, they might arrive too late.

He said in a previous similar circumstance in the Japanese Arctic in
2005, the whales died within one day of their discovery, after their ice
hole froze over.

"It's heartbreaking to witness these pictures," Ramp said, "but it's
probably occurring more often than we think."

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