ANIMALS – They were able to escape. This Tuesday, February 6, Japanese television showed images of around ten orcas fighting for their survival, stuck in the ice off the island of Hokkaido, in the north of Japan. Their situation seemed critical, as you can see in our video at the top of the article.
The mammals, pressed against each other in the middle of the ice jam, tried as best they could to keep their heads above the water. On average, an orca can hold its breath for around fifteen minutes.
In view of the situation, the Japanese coast guard tried to help. In vain, as the correspondent explained of Guardian in an article. “We have no choice but to wait until the ice breaks and they can escape”, they explained on Japanese television. The lack of wind this winter may have led to a larger-than-usual ice jam off the coast of Hokkaido.
This is not the first time that orcas have found themselves stuck in the Shiretoko Peninsula National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its great biodiversity. In 2005, several specimens died in similar circumstances.
An area of tension between Russia and Japan
This time, the tragedy was avoided without human help. The cetaceans managed to make their way between the pieces of ice, according to the authorities of the town of Rausu, who noted on Wednesday evening that the group had disappeared. “We believe they were able to escape safely,” said a town official, according to comments reported by the Associated Press.
Good news, because there is no indication that the Japanese authorities have intervened to help them. Indeed, although the trapped whales were in Japanese waters, they were located near an island disputed by Japan and Russia. This past Wednesday, February 7, on the occasion of the annual Northern Territory Day, Japan also renewed its request for the return of the islands under Russian control.
This dispute dates back to the end of World War II. At this time, the Soviet Union conquered several islands that belonged to Japan. The subject remains on the table today, and has prevented the ratification of a peace treaty between the two countries. The status quo remains, as Moscow ended negotiations with Tokyo after Japanese sanctions following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
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