In a fantasy world I'm building I wanted a group of tundra dwellers to live within a large city that is in reality the frozen remains of a pod of this world's equivalent of sperm whales.

Is there any logical way to explain how a whale pod became trapped in ice? Preferably with the ice somehow being above the surface and looking like a small mountain.

  • $\begingroup$ The whale is still alive or death? $\endgroup$ – Ender Look Jul 22 '18 at 21:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Ender Look dead $\endgroup$ – Celestial Dragon Emperor Jul 22 '18 at 21:28
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    $\begingroup$ Couldn't just die and then its corpse be trapped into ice. That would be more easy. $\endgroup$ – Ender Look Jul 22 '18 at 21:30
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    $\begingroup$ Don't know if you are aware of the true story of operation breakthrough. Some whales stayed too long in the arctic and got trapped by the ice. A path of breathing holes had to be cut into the ice to lead them to open water. This sort of scenario could at least explain the why the whales got trapped where they did. $\endgroup$ – EveryBitHelps Jul 22 '18 at 23:49
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    $\begingroup$ Nitpick, but a "herd" of whales is actually called a pod. $\endgroup$ – 0xdd Jul 23 '18 at 13:27

1: Sperm whales can get beached in large numbers.

sperm whale mass beaching

2: Sperm whales can apparently get beached on icebergs.


Dead, Decaying Whale Poses Puzzle: How Did It Land On Top Of An Iceberg? May 16, 1985|United Press International NUUK, GREENLAND — A dead whale frozen in an iceberg 13 feet above the surface of the frigid waters off south Greenland is mystifying scientists and curious residents of a tiny Greenland settlement.

No one can figure out how the 59-foot sperm whale died or how it ended up in an icy grave high above the water drifting a few miles off the tiny settlement of Alluitsup...

Close inspection reveals the whale may have been the victim of a hunter`s harpoon. In its neck is a cylindrical hole 15 inches in diameter and three feet.

But that does not explain how the beast came to rest in an icy grave bobbing 13 feet above the water...

They believe the whale, weakened or dead, could have drifted over the submerged portion of an iceberg and become an involuntary hitchhiker when the iceberg separated and a submerged portion rose under the whale.

3: Big icebergs can get beached too.

iceberg is beached https://www.npr.org/2017/04/20/524833709/grounded-glacier-in-canada-reinforces-iceberg-alleys-moniker


1: Sperm whale herd beaches itself on floating iceberg.

2: Iceberg pivots in the water as it melts, lifting beached whales to new topmost portion (as with above pasted story).

3: Iceberg itself is beached on land and there it sits. Maybe it gets wedged in a fork in an existing glacier.

4: Whales atop iceberg rot and are eaten by seabirds / foxes etc.

5: Snow and ice accumulate atop iceberg which is incorporated into glacier.

6: Later, whale skeletons are found entombed in the ice.

7: People move in and make cozy cottages.

This scenario would mean the dwelling are right on the coast, where the iceberg came to rest. Another possibility is that the whales were moved one at a time to the high spot where your tundra dwellers found them.

A thunderbird would do that.

thunderbird and whale https://www.pinterest.com/pin/347269821244629823/

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    $\begingroup$ This answer is perfection $\endgroup$ – Celestial Dragon Emperor Jul 22 '18 at 22:02
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    $\begingroup$ If this was at the start of an ice age then water levels would be falling, allowing the frozen pod of whales to end up quite a long way inland as the ocean recedes. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Jul 23 '18 at 8:30

As this Skeptics answer shows, fish getting frozen in ice is entirely possible.

School of fish in frozen ice

The whales entered a near-freezing bay with a small inlet. A shift in the wind caused the inlet to freeze over, trapping the whales in the bay. As the winter grew colder, the bay froze as well and trapped the whales in the ice.

As spring approached, the inlet thawed and the whale-filled iceberg drifted out to sea. It eventually beached itself in the tundra where your dwellers could find to create their new frozen home.

  • $\begingroup$ If the "whale-filled iceberg" could drift out to sea, it means there is no sand-bar (or similar) at the inlet. If there is no such barrier, the whales could (easily) just swim out of the bay, under the ice. $\endgroup$ – Martin Bonner supports Monica Jul 23 '18 at 14:26

Whales are mammals that must break the water surface to breath.

Whales often die with their heads stuck in an ice hole.

There is no need for an elaborate trap or chain of events. Their deaths and frozen bodies are often found stuck in ice. Here is why:

Whales can find themselves swimming underneath a frozen sea. The diameter of the ice shelf can be greater than they can hold their breath. As the sea surface continues to freeze over they search for air holes and become stationary. Holding their heads through the holes to breath unable to swim to another location (there are no more holes).

They die when the hole freezes and traps their head into position. Their bodies become part of the ice shelf with their heads sticking out. Other whales die under the water and become frozen into the ice.

I'm sure a larger sperm whale could die in the same manner.


Operation Breakthrough was an international effort to free three gray whales from pack ice in the Beaufort Sea near Point Barrow in the U.S. state of Alaska in 1988.

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