Killer whales near Alaska village, appear stressed

By MARY PEMBERTON | October 6, 2011 | 5:25 PM EDT

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Three killer whales have made an unusual trek up the Nushagak River in southwest Alaska.

NOAA Fisheries-Alaska region spokeswoman Julie Speegle says residents have seen killer whales at the mouth of the river, but never this far upriver.

Speegle says biologists don't know why the whales are in the water just downriver from the village of Ekwok. She says it appears they are stressed from being in fresh water and are covered with a membrane.

The whales have been in the river for about three weeks. The story was first reported by KTUU.

NOAA and other agencies are monitoring the situation. She says if it looks like intervention is needed to help the whales, a decision will be made on how to do it.