A northern Quebec community is trying to save a number of killer whales trapped under a thick blanket of sea ice.

Residents of Inukjuak village say the whales are using only a small patch of open water to breathe and calls for an icebreaker to smash the floes have been unsuccessful.

In a video posted to Facebook, a number of the whales can be seen taking turns breaching in the small patch of open water: some torpedo straight up, several feet out of the water, while others surface porpoise-style to catch a breath.

Simeonie Nalukturuk, public safety officer for the nearby village of Inukjuak, Que., confirmed no fewer than 11 whales are trapped.

"It looks quite beautiful, but we're not sure exactly what to do right now because where they are is very rough; the ice condition is dangerous," Nalukturuk told CTVNews.ca by phone.

The video was recorded on Tuesday, but the whales were still there on Wednesday morning, he said.

Nalukturuk said the whales shouldn't even be in the area this time of year. "We've only seen those kind of whales in the summer time, never in the winter time."

Village officials contacted the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for assistance, but they were told that icebreakers are too far from the area, according to The Canadian Press. 

The DFO said Wednesday it is assessing the situation with experts in the region.

"Situations where marine mammals are trapped by the ice are not unusual in the North," a department spokesperson wrote in an email to CP.

Inukjuak is located about 1,600 kilometres north of Montreal, located on Hudson Bay’s east coast.

With files from Andy Johnson