News about the rescue mission to save 100 Beluga whales trapped off Russia’s Far Eastern Peninsula of the Bering Sea took a turn for the worse on Monday. Emergency services reported they were suspending the operation because of bad weather.
Officials said the tug boat that was sent by Russia’s Emergencies Minister to break through the ice and free the whales was unable to make it through the thick ice floes leading to the spot where the whales are trapped. It returned to a nearby port to refuel and wait for the weather to calm down.
“If the weather and ice conditions in the area improve, the operation may continue,” said spokesperson Lubomir Mukha.
The Belugas were discovered on December 14 by local hunters. A wide belt of ice that is 30 to 50 feet thick is surrounding the whales, making it impossible for them to swim to the open sea.
Holes in the ice have allowed the large mammals to come up for air, but there is great concern the whales may eventually starve because food in the enclosed area is limited.
The good news is that experts from the Chukotka Fishery Research Center have calculated there is enough food in the channel to feed the whales at least until January. So keep your fingers crossed that the weather improves and the whales get another chance to be rescued.
Beluga whales are highly intelligent creatures. One of the huge white mammals was caught showing-off for a photographer at Kamogawa Sea World near Tokyo on Christmas Day. The whale is seen waving and blowing a bubble ring to the audience.
Photo from mikejsolutions via flickr.