As the arctic ocean quickly froze the Narwhals couldn’t make it to open ocean.
The first sign of trouble came when hunters crossing the sea ice outside of Pond Inlet, high on Baffin Island’s northeast coast, saw polar bears feasting on dead narwhals.
But it wasn’t until the hunters got close to the blood-stained carcasses of the white whales that they saw the enormity of the disaster.
Some 500 whales were trapped in the ice, about 50 kilometres from the open ocean, repeatedly surfacing at a handful of small, air holes that were rapidly freezing shut.
Since that discovery last week, people from the hamlet of Pond Inlet have killed an estimated 300 whales by shooting them as they surface, quickly harpooning them and dragging them onto the ice.
The whales that remain alive, perhaps as many as 200, will be killed in the next few days as the community of Pond Inlet moves to harvest animals that otherwise would die of starvation or drowning.
Joseph Maktar of the Pond Inlet Hunters and Trappers Association said that the same problem of stranded whales happened before in 1943. "We can blame it on global warming," said Mr. Maktar referring to the current stranding of whales. Mr. Maktar didn’t comment on the reason for the problem in 1943.
In this instance global warming became a plus for the polar bears.