Whales trapped in ice in northern Alaska discovered – 1988

Whales trapped in ice in northern Alaska discovered – 1988

The US State Department asked the USSR for help, so the Soviets sent two icebreakers.

A large group of whales trapped in ice in the far north of Alaska was discovered on October 7, 1988. These were gray whales (lat. Eschrichtius robustus) trapped by an ice sheet in the Beaufort Sea, on the edge of the Arctic Ocean.

The whales were discovered by Inuit hunter Roy Ahmaogak near Cape Point Barrow, the northernmost land point of the U.S. state of Alaska, as well as the United States in general. Ahmaogak tried to break the ice, but the venture was beyond his capabilities. Soon, a lot of media attention in the United States rose around the captured whales. The Americans were unable to free the whales with their vessels, nor with a helicopter carrying a massive ice-breaking weight. Eventually, the U.S. State Department asked for help from the USSR, so the Soviets sent two icebreakers.

Soviet icebreakers Vladimir Arsenijev and Admiral Makarov came to the mentioned location and released the whales. Icebreaker Admiral Makarov broke through the ice a wide way, and another icebreaker cleared that passage of the remaining pieces of broken ice. Unfortunately, before the whales were released the youngest of them, a nine-month-old cub named Bone, passed away. The remaining whales were rescued, but their further fate is unknown (scientists there did not equip them with radio transmitters).

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