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Beluga whales trapped in ice floes of Bering Sea

By Lynn Herrmann     Dec 14, 2011 in Environment
More than 100 Beluga whales are trapped between ice floes in the Chukotka region of Russia, with government officials seeking an icebreaker, as the whales are at risk of death from exhaustion, lack of food, and predators.
The Belugas are trapped in the Sinyavinsky Strait near the village of Yanrakynnot, just off the Bering Sea. They were discovered by fishermen who said the whales were concentrated in two small ice holes where, for now, they are able to breathe freely.
The government of the Chukotka Autonomous Region is seeking federal assistance in the form of an icebreaker to help with a rescue of the whales, CNN reports. Ice floes are increasing which may lead to rapid exhaustion and death by suffocation or starvation. The trapped whales are also at risk from predators such as polar bears and killer whales.
Beluga whales inhabit the Arctic Ocean and adjoining seas, are entirely arctic and subarctic, and are generally found in shallow coastal waters. Their world population is estimated between 60,000 to 80,000, according to Sea World.
Belugas are often trapped in the Arctic’s icy waters, but the phenomenon is usually undetected by people. The last recorded successful rescue of Belugas in the Chukotka region occurred in 1986, when an icebreaker helped in getting a pod of Belugas back into open water.
Known as “the shore of two oceans,” the Chukotka Autonomous Region is remotely located in extreme Northeast Russia and is the closest territory to the US, separated by the Bering Strait.
More about belugas, Beluga whales, whales trapped, Arctic ocean, chukotka
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