A group of beluga whales is currently trapped between large chunks of ice floating in the frigid Bering Sea. The group of nearly 100 belugas, an endangered species, could perish if Russia’s nature protection program is unable to lead them to open water.
The Washington Post reports that the whales are trapped underneath ice that is about 4-6 inches thick. The whales are currently grouped near a small breaks in the ice and may not be able to swim to open waters.
A statement on the website for the Chukotka Autonomous Region reads:
“A group of over 100 Beluga whales are cut off from the sea and are prisoners of ice floes in the Bering Sea.”
The IBTimes reports that the local authorities have asked Russia to send an ice breaker so that they can lead the animals to safety. Local governor Roman Kopin has written a letter to Transport Minister Igor Levitin and Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu saying that the whales could die of starvation if they are not helped. Kokin wrote:
“Given the lack of food and the speed at which the water is freezing, all the animals are threatened with exhaustion and death.”
Canada.com reports that the trapped beluga whales are about 10 miles south of the village of Yanrakynot on the Bering Sea. The Russian ice-breaking tug Rubin is currently two days away from the trapped beluga whales.
If any animal in Russia will be helped by the government it would likely be the Beluga whale. Vladamir Putin has even dedicated a page to the beluga whale on his website. According to Canada.com, the beluga shares the honor with the Amur tiger, polar bear and snow leopard.