The operation to rescue the beluga whale stuck in the waters of the Seine began. The condition of the cetacean, considered “alarming”
The beluga stranded for a week in the Seine River in northern France was lifted from the water in a first stage of the rescue operation. The condition of the whale was checked on Wednesday morning, and veterinarians say the cetacean is weakened and its condition is “alarming”, the BBC and Le Monde reported.
Beluga, four meters long, is part of a protected species that is usually found in much colder Arctic waters. The whale remained stranded in the waters of the Seine, in the area of Notre Dame de la-Garenne, northwest of Paris, a week ago.
About 80 people are involved in the rescue operation, including divers and policemen.
Last night, in an intervention that lasted almost six hours, the rescue team lifted out of the water the beluga, which weighs 800 kilograms, and placed it on a barge. She was then evaluated by veterinarians who came to the conclusion that her health was “alarming”.
Rescuers then moved the beluga to a refrigerated truck that will take her to the coastal zone and hope to treat the whale for several days and then release it offshore.
“It is a long rescue operation, very technical, which required a lot of skills,” said Isabelle Dorliat-Pouzet, secretary general of the Eure prefecture, adding that the specimen is a male, that it has several wounds and well below normal weight.
“There may be internal problems that we cannot foresee,” said an expert at marine animal park Marineland in southern France, but noted that the beluga is “extremely hardy” as a species.
The Beluga remained stranded more than 100 kilometers in the waters of the Seine, and her health deteriorated because the cetacean did not eat enough. Rescuers tried to feed the whale with frozen herring and trout.
Experts still do not understand how the beluga managed to move so far away from its natural habitat. Beluga whales occasionally venture southwards in the fall to feed as ice forms, but it is rare to travel so far.
According to the Pelagis Observatory in France, which specializes in marine mammals, the closest population to the beluga is located off the Svalbard archipelago, north of Norway, 3,000 kilometers from the Seine.
Main photo: Profimedia