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Breaking News: 100 Beluga Whales Trapped In Bering Sea

Breaking News: 100 Beluga Whales Trapped In Bering Sea

Russian authorities have launched a massive rescue to save more than 100 Beluga whales that are trapped by giant pieces of floating ice in the Bering Sea. Fear is rising that they will soon die of exhaustion or starvation.

Local hunters discovered the whales on Wednesday in the Sinyavinsky channel, in the Chukotka region. They are trapped by a “wide belt of 10- to 15- centimeter- thick ice,” (33 feet to 50 feet).

Fishermen say the whales have two areas where they can surface for air, but have little access to food and are so boxed in, they cannot swim to open waters.

Local residents reported the crisis to Russia’s Transport Minister and Emergencies Minister asking them to send an icebreaker as soon as possible. Advancing ice and extreme frigid waters are increasing the size of the icebergs, which will eventually reduce the amount of space the whales have to swim.

A rescue tug called the Ruby was dispatched to the area. It was in the Bering Sea helping a Korean cargo ship that ran aground, but it is being hampered by a “high wind and a heavy swell.” It cannot break through the ice until the weather gets better.

Beluga whales are listed as “near-threatened” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list. Unfortunately it is a relatively common phenomenon for them to get trapped by icebergs in the Bering Sea, but most of the time people are not nearby to notice the tragedy or call for help.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is a fan of Beluga whales, and heads Russia’s program to protect them.

Updates to this story will be posted as new details are reported.


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Photo from mikejsolutions via flickr.

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8:08PM PDT on Apr 13, 2012

Ann S, who cares about the math?? the point is that the animals need help and Russia is willing to rescue them It seems to me you don't care about the whales plight

6:55AM PST on Jan 28, 2012

Any update on this story please ?

6:34AM PST on Jan 23, 2012

Are you freakin' SERIOUS Seattle Ann? These poor whales are trapped, and you pick on conversion? The POINT is, is that they are trapped! Shouldn't THAT be your priority, and not some stupid math error? Sheesh...! That says a LOT about you!

12:18AM PST on Jan 12, 2012

I couldn't finish reading this article. The author lost her credentials with me when she converted 10 and 15 centimeters to 33 and 50 feet. A typo is one thing but a conversion this far off shows you don't understand basic math or how to common sense check answers. That should be embarrassing to a columnist.

3:12PM PST on Jan 7, 2012

Is there a way we can donate to the rescue effort?

6:17AM PST on Dec 31, 2011

hope they are ok :( thanks for sharing

6:11AM PST on Dec 31, 2011

hope they are ok :( thanks for sharing

3:10PM PST on Dec 26, 2011

I sure hope they get that ice cleared.

6:32PM PST on Dec 22, 2011

Thanks for the article.

10:24PM PST on Dec 19, 2011

I pray that they succeed and other countries help out too. It is critical that these whales survive!

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