Three killer whales surface through a breathing hole in the ice of Hudson Bay near the community of Inukjuak, Quebec January 9, 2013. The whales are part of a pod of several that are trapped in the sea ice of the Hudson Bay. The whales are taking turns breathing through a hole in the ice about the size of a pickup truck. Inukjuak's mayor has called upon the Canadian government to send an icebreaker to save them. REUTERS/Maggie Okituk

Montreal - A Canadian village leader says about a dozen killer whales that were trapped under sea ice appear to have reached safety after the floating ice shifted on Hudson Bay.

Tommy Palliser said Thursday that two hunters from Inukjuak village reported the water had opened up around the area where the cornered whales had been bobbing frantically for air.

Locals said the mammals had been trapped around a single, truck-sized breathing hole for at least two days.

Palliser says villagers had been planning to launch a rescue operation Thursday.

But he says the winds seemed to shift overnight, pushing the floating ice further away from shore to open up the water.

Mayor Peter Inukpuk had urged the Canadian government to send an icebreaker. - Sapa-AP