A dozen killer whales are trapped under a vast stretch of sea ice in northern Canada, while officials try to work out a way to free them.
Locals in Inukjuak, in the far north of Quebec, said the mammals have gathered around a car-sized hole in the ice to get oxygen.
Mayor Peter Inukpuk urged the Canadian government on Wednesday to send an icebreaker as soon as possible to crack open the ice and help them find open water.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans said it is sending officials to assess the problem.
"Fisheries and Oceans Canada is assessing the situation and are exploring every possible option, but will only be in a position to determine what - if anything - can be done once our specialists arrive on site," spokesman Frank Stanek said in a statement.
A hunter first spotted the pod of about a dozen trapped whales on Tuesday at the hole, which is on the eastern shore of the Hudson Bay. Inukjuak is about 1500 kilometres north of Montreal.
Dozens of villagers made the one-hour snowmobile ride on Tuesday to see the unusual spectacle. They snapped photos and shot video footage of the killer whales surfacing in the opening - and even thrusting themselves skyward while gasping for air.
One woman who made the journey to the gap in the ice said even a curious polar bear approached the hole amid the commotion. Siasie Kasudluak said the bear was shot by a local hunter for its meat.
The trapped orcas appeared to be in distress, but locals were ill-equipped to help out.
Ms Kasudluak said the hole appeared to be shrinking in the freezing temperatures.
Mr Inukpuk believes the sudden drop in temperature recently caught the orcas off guard, leaving them boxed in under the ice.