A pod of orcas that became trapped and gasping for air on a small mass of ice off the main island of Hokkaido in northern Japan, sparking concern from environmental groups, has apparently escaped safely.
The killer whales, also known as killer whales, were initially sighted by a local fisherman who reported them to officials in the nearby town of Rausu, on the northeast coast of Hokkaido, yesterday morning.
City officials traveled to shore later that day and saw about a dozen whales bobbing up and down in a small space surrounded by drift ice, about 1 kilometer (half a mile) from shore.
After analyzing drone footage filmed by a conservation group, officials counted 13 orcas there.
Officials returned to shore yesterday afternoon and saw that the capsule had moved north, and was gone when they returned this morning, said Rausu official Masataka Shirayanagi.
A pod of a dozen orcas was seen trapped in the ice in northern Japan. Drone footage captured the struggling orcas trying to free themselves from the large chunks of ice off the coast of Rausu.
The head of one of the orcas can be seen poking out between the huge chunks of ice.
Authorities said they believe the orcas were able to free themselves from drifting ice as the gap between them grew.
“We believe they were able to escape safely,” Shirayanagi said.
The images, captured by a drone piloted by a conservation group and shown on national NHK television and on social media, sparked concern inside and outside Japan about the conditions of the whales and calls for help from the Japanese government.
One group submitted a request to the Ministry of Defense to mobilize an icebreaker to help free them.
Although the trapped whales were in Japanese waters, they were not far from an island disputed between Japan and Russia.
A rescue mission failed because the city said they “had no choice but to wait for the drift ice to break and they escape.”
Japan celebrated the annual Northern Territory Day today to renew its demand for the return of Russian-controlled islands.
The dispute over the islands, which the former Soviet Union seized from Japan at the end of World War II, has prevented the two countries from signing a peace treaty that formally ends their war hostilities.
Moscow announced that it would cut off negotiations with Tokyo over Japanese sanctions following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters today that orcas are not designated as an endangered species in Japan and that officials were monitoring the situation as Japan and Russia communicated on the issue.
A pod of orcas was recently seen hunting dolphins off the coast of La Jolla in San Diego, California.
A surfer is seen watching the pod of orcas tear apart a dolphin before the dead mammal sank into the water.
Footage of the moment showed a group of surfers off the coast of La Jolla in San Diego watching orcas jumping in the water.
Surfers and swimmers witnessed this rare event up close when a pod of killer whales were seen hunting and destroying a dolphin close to shore.
Images of the moment show a group of surfers watching the orcas jumping in the water.
As they floated silently on their boards, the orcas were seen surfacing near the end of a dock and tossing a dolphin out of the water.
The capsule then attacked and destroyed the mammal as it sank into the water.
During that time, one man was heard saying, ‘My God, they’re literally eating the dolphin.’
A few seconds later, the pod was seen heading towards deeper waters as a man swam quickly parallel to the orcas.