A pod or family of orca whales struggling for their lives in a shrinking ice hole north of Quebec may finally have attracted human rescuers.

Kasco Marine Inc., a company that makes marine equipment including de-icers, is trying to martial all interested parties to mount a rescue of the whales, estimated to number between eight and 17.

The company, which inspired the movie about a whale rescue, Big Miracle, starring Drew Barrymore, is based in Prescott, Wisc..

It issued this statement on its Facebook page:

Kasco is overwhelmed with the outpouring of offers and assistance. We are doing our best to provide all of the assistance we can in the rescue effort by continuing to look for transportation to the remote area of Inukjuak where there is very limited airplane accessibility. With the help and cooperative efforts of the many volunteers and individual and business donations we hope to save these great whales.
Please contact Kasco at KascoMarineBigMiracle@gmail.com with inquiries or any information you may have to help the cause.

The whales are surfacing frequently to get air in an area of water no larger than a house.

Many reports on the trapped whales have speculated that the family is likely to perish before rescue efforts could cut through the ice to free them. See a video of the whales here.

A local man quoted at TakePart described the distance to open water from where the whales are trapped (about 900 miles north of Montreal) as too great for an ice-cutting operation.

Local resident Johnny P. Williams told the Canadian Broadcasting Company that he checked in on the whales, who seem to be having trouble getting enough air to breath.

“It is difficult to go near the ice since the waves from the whales are making it impossible,” he told the CBC, speaking in Inuktitut. “The breathing hole is getting smaller and smaller. Their whole body jumps up for air.” Apparently, the orcas managed to kill a polar bear that had wandered too close to their breathing hole.

Williams said a plane was dispatched to fly over the site (see video) and try to determine the number of orcas trapped, and their distance from open water. The distance is great, he said. It will take an icebreaker to clear a path for their escape.

Area residents noticed the whales leaping in the small area surrounded by growing sea ice. Many appealed to Canadian authorities to help, but were told that the government was not responsible for the lives of marine animals.

However, Department of Fisheries and Oceans spokesman Frank Stanek told the Associated Presss: “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.”