A pod of whales trapped by miles of drift ice off the coast of Japan appear to be free, according to local media reports released Monday. On Tuesday, at least 13 orcas were confined to a small gap in ice near the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.The matter garnered international attention as killer whales, which are “one of the most critically endangered marine mammals” in the world, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, spend the majority of their time on the surface of the ocean.Orcas only spend about 10 minutes at a time submerged underwater. With the high stakes of the orca pod in danger, activists petitioned the Japanese government to use an ice breaker to set the pod free, and the Russian Federal Agency for Fishery sent a formal offer to help Japan rescue the whales. But officials monitoring the orcas from the seaside town reported the whales have escaped their icy trap. “We believe they were able to escape safely," a local official in the seaside town of Rausu said according to BBC. The orcas had apparently navigated their way out of the dense pieces of drift ice to freedom.