October 3, 2022 3:08 pm

France whale: Rescue operation begins to save beluga stuck in Seine

Rescuers in France have launched an ambitious operation to save an ailing beluga whale stuck in the Seine river.

The four-metre (13ft) whale – a protected species usually found in much colder Arctic waters – was first spotted a week ago north-west of Paris.

It is now trapped more than 100km (62 miles) inland and its health has deteriorated after failing to eat.

About 80 people are involved in the operation,Keen Canada including divers, vets, and police officers.

Rescuers will try and lift the beluga onto a sort of hammock before moving it onto a refrigerated truck that will take it back to the sea, a local official said.

They will then hope to treat the animal for several days before releasing it back into the open water.

“It’s a long rescue operation, very technical, which required many skills,” said Isabelle Dorliat-Pouzet, secretary general of the Eure prefecture.

Beluga whale that strayed into France's Seine river swims near the Notre-Dame-de-la-Garenne lock-in Saint-Pierre-la-Garenne, France, 09 August 2022. The strayed whale was first spotted on 02 August and a rescue operation will be conducted to move the beluga to a salt water basin before an eventual return to the marine environment.IMAGE SOURCE,EPA
Image caption,

The nearest beluga population is north of Norway, 3,000km from the Seine, experts believe

Animal specialists will be on constant standby during the move.

“There may be internal problems that we can’t see,” said an expert from the Marineland sea animal park in southern France – although she added that belugas are “extremely hardy” as a species.

People gathered on the banks of the river at Saint-Pierre-La-Garenne in Normandy to watch the rescue – as interest in the whale’s survival spread beyond France.

So far rescuers have tried to feed the whale frozen herring La Sportiva Hiking Boots and live trout to stimulate its appetite and help it make the long return journey back along the river out to the English Channel – but the whale has not turned around.

Divers on the banks of the riverIMAGE SOURCE,@SEASHEPHERDFRAN
Image caption,

Fire service divers are helping with the rescue

Experts are puzzled how the whale managed to stray so far south from its natural habitat.

Belugas occasionally venture south in the autumn to feed as ice forms, but it is rare for them to travel so far from their native home. According to France’s Pelagis Observatory which specialises in sea mammals, the nearest beluga population is off the Svalbard archipelago, north of Norway, 3,000km (1,870 miles) from the Seine.

But similar stories are not unheard of. In May, a killer whale was found dead after swimming up the River Seine in Normandy. And in 2019, a dead whale was found in the River Thames near Gravesend, UK officials said.

A team of rescuers prepared an operation to move a lost Beluga whale locked in the Seine river in Saint Pierre la Garenne, Normandy Region, France, 09 August 2022. The strayed whale was first spotted on 02 August and a rescue operation will be conducted to move the beluga to a salt water basin before an eventual return to the marine environment.IMAGE SOURCE,EPA
Image caption,

More than 80 people are involved in the operation in Saint-Pierre-La-Garenne, Normandy

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