Perhaps 100 of the all-white beluga whales beloved by Alaskans and Hollywood producers are trapped in ice floes in the Sinyavinsky Strait off the Bering Sea near the village of Yanrakynno, according to CNN.
The global news network speculates the mammals “risk death unless rescued soon. They are at risk of rapid exhaustion and, ultimately, death by starvation or suffocation. Trapped whales are also susceptible to predators like polar bears and killer whales.”
It quotes fishermen in the area saying that two small holes in the ice allow the belugas to continue breathing for now.
Chukotka Autonomous Region officials have appealed for help from Russian authorities, including an icebreaker to help clear a path to open water for the belugas. A rescue tug, Ruby, was in the area helping a Korean cargo ship that ran aground on the southern coast of Chukotka, but it would take nearly two days for it to reach the whales, according to CNN.