White whale rescue operation suspended

Dec. 26, 2011 at 10:38 AM

ANADYR, Russia, Dec. 26 (UPI) -- An operation to rescue dozens of white whales trapped in ice off Russia's Chukotka Peninsula was suspended Monday because of weather conditions, officials say.

Officials said a rescue tug boat headed to the area Friday after fishermen working in the Bering Sea reported seeing about 100 whales trapped in ice Dec. 13, RIA Novosti reported.

The tug boat, which failed to make it through the ice, is heading to the port of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to refuel, Lubomir Mukha said.

"If the weather and ice conditions in the area improve, the operation may continue," Mukha said.

Holes in the ice allow the whales to breathe easily, but they are still in danger as food in the area dwindles.

Experts from the Chukotka Fishery Research Center said there is enough food in the Sinyavinsky channel to feed the whales at least until January.

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