Twelve killer whales are trapped in a small hole under a vast stretch of ice near Inukjuak, in Northern Quebec, Canada, reports The Associated Press.

The orcas were spotted first by a hunter Tuesday just a day after the ice froze. A pod of whales has gathered around a small hole in the ice to get oxygen supply.

Locals living in Inukjuak, located some 900 miles (1,500km) north of Montreal, made a snowmobile ride to see the whales. They took photos and filmed videos of the whales taking turns in the small patch of water to breathe.

They also noted that the small hole in the ice appears to be shrinking with more ice freezing, which could pose a major threat to the whales. 

Mayor Peter Inukpuk said that the pod, comprising two adults and a number of young ones, might belong to a single family. They appeared to be in real trouble, he noted.

"It appears from time to time that they panic," Inukpuk told CBC News. "Other times they are gone for a long time, probably looking for another open space, which they are not able to find."

Inukpuk has asked the Canadian government to send an icebreaker to set the whales free, as the community is not well equipped to help the marine species.

Meanwhile, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has stated that it is dispatching a team Thursday to review the situation.

"Fisheries and Oceans Canada is assessing the situation and are exploring every possible option, but will only be in a position to determine what-if anything-can be done once our specialists arrive on site," spokesman Frank Stanek said in a statement.

Click here to take a look at the stranded whales near Inukjuak, Quebec in Canada.