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12 orca trapped in ice in Hudson Bay

11/01/2013 10:11:04 Should humans intervene to save the Hudson Bay orca, if it is at all possible?

January 2013. A family of a dozen killer whales that had been trapped in the ice in Canada's Hudson Bay appear to have moved off into some open water - for now. There was an outcry from people all over the world demanding that the Canadian Government do something to free the Orca, probably with an ice breaker, however wind and sea currents within the bay seemed to have moved some of the ice away and the Orca are no longer trapped.

However, this may well be only a temporary reprieve as as winters loses in most of the Hudson Bay will ice over, and there will be little open water or food to sustain the orca family. The orca have been caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, and are probably a 1000 kilometres away from safety at this time of year.

Wildlife Extra questions whether it would have been possible for anyone to do anything to save the orca if the ice hadn't moved, or whether we should even try. I don't know the area personally, but I believe the Hudson Bay completely freezes over in winter, and stays frozen until May/June. If this is true, and ice-breaker would have to bash a channel northwards into the Hudson Straight, and out towards Greenland, a journey of some 1200 kilometres.

Nature can be cruel, brutal even, but that is the nature of nature. This isn't a man-made situation, sad though it is, it is something that happens in the world, and always has. I believe that it is a leading cause of death for whales in Polar regions, where whales become caught by ice surprisingly often.

When something like this happens, there is always a silver lining, though it isn't always obvious. If a whale becomes caught under the ice in the Arctic and dies, there will be a host of organisms, worms and fish that will feed on the carcass, and these animals will in turn be prey for other species, that will in turn be prey for the next generation of orca and many other species besides. That is how the world works.

Man should not intervene
If this were a man-made situation, or something that threatened the survival of a species, then we should try to do something to help the whales. It isn't, so even if it were possible for humans to do something, which is probably highly unlikely, we should let nature take its course.

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