Inukjuak Killer Whale Entrapment, January 2013

This winter, an unusual event occurred near Inukjuak, Nunavik (Quebec) when killer whales became entrapped in ice for several days, approximately 30 km northwest of the community. News traveled fast and many witnesses took amazing photos and videos.

See the Oceans North story: The Mystery of Hudson Bay's Trapped Killer Whales.

We would like to thank those who contributed to our photo ID efforts by providing copies to Kristin Westdal. Especially, Jeannie Nayoumealuk, Crystal Speedie, Davidee Mina, Jill Este, Mark O'Connor, Poasie Nappaaluk, and Raphaël Goulet. If anyone else has photos and video, please consider sharing them with us. By gathering as many photos as we can – especially of both sides of the whales – we increase our knowledge about Arctic killer whales.

In particular, photos taken during and after the entrapment will help us learn a great deal about the entrapped whales:

Killer Whale1. Their fate – Although we know they escaped the entrapment, only photo matches will help us confirm whether they survived the winter. This male with a nicked dorsal fin should be easy to identify in future years.

(Click images for larger versions.)

Killer Whale2. Their health – Entrapped whales may have more marks and scars on their bodies, presumably from the ice. This damage may tell us about what kinds of injuries or infections might be caused by ice entrapments. This animal looks to be losing skin over a large portion of its back.

Killer Whale3. Their behaviours – We can try to see if large males spy hopped to breathe more than females. They might do this to keep their dorsal fin from hitting the ice when the breathing space was small.


Killer WhaleWe also are gathering traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) and would like to hear about sightings in the past (especially from Nunavik). We have conducted several TEK studies, which can be found on our website [Publications and Reports], and we are always interested in learning more from northerners.