People who live in Inukjuak say killer whales which were trapped in a bay by ice have managed to make it to the open sea.

Alacie Irqumia and others say that winds shifted overnight, pushing floating ice floes out of the bay.

That was enough to let a pod of killer whales make a break for the open ocean, using more holes in the ice to breathe along the way.

Amateur video of the pod of orcas using a small hole to breathe went around the world this week, prompting many compassionate people to demand government agencies do something to free the whales.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans said icebreakers were too far away from the northern Quebec village to reach it in time to do any good, however the agency was planning to send people to Inukjuak on Thursday to evaluate the situation.

One eyewitness said that seeing the whales stuck was a deeply troubling sight.

“I was shocked to see these magnificent creatures to see that they were trapped not knowing what to do, or how to help them out,” said Inukjuaq resident Christian Soares, who shot video of the beasts gasping for air after hunters first spotted the whales Tuesday. 

Killer whales remain a rare sight in the Arctic, particularly at this time of year, as the waters are usually frozen by late December. 

Last year saw a dramatic change, with the lowest sea ice coverage on record.

“Even though the overall amount of sea ice is decreasing, it’s really this unpredictability that's the problem,” said McGill Earth Sciences Professor Eric Galbraith. “That’s the bigger problem of climate change everywhere. It makes it more difficult for animals to go about their business and ultimately will make it more difficult for humans.”

Though they may be freed from their icy confines, the whales still face a difficult journey with more ice and unpredictable weather ahead as they continue towards the North Atlantic.