Human Interest

Beluga whale rescued from River Seine in northern France

Paris, Aug 10 (EFE).- Some 80 people rescued an 800-kilogram beluga whale early Wednesday morning from the River Seine, about 70 kilometers from Paris, in a delicate operation that lasted more than eight hours.

The 4-metre-long (13-foot) beluga, a species that lives in icy Arctic seas, was spotted some 130 kilometres (80 miles) inland more than a week ago and stopped eating.

Its health concerned authorities, veterinarians and activists who decided to rescue the whale from the freshwater river to prevent its health from declining further.

“The beluga was taken out of the water after long hours of preparation and effort. Congratulations to the teams involved for having taken up this challenge,” Sea Shepherd France wrote on Twitter.

“The beluga is a male who does not present any infectious disease but who no longer has any digestive activity, which explains why he no longer eats. Veterinarians will try to restimulate digestion even if we do not know for the moment the origin of the problem.”

The mammal, which had been contained by locks in the river at Saint-Pierre-La-Garenne last Thursday, was pulled out of the water in a net lifted by a crane, according to Isabelle Dorliat-Pouzet, the secretary general of the department of Eure, Normandy.

At a press conference, Dorliat-Pouzet told reporters it was a long operation involving 80 people, including divers, specialists and veterinarians.

She warned that it was a risky and stressful operation for the whale, which appeared thin and is now being treated by specialists.

Conservationists had been trying unsuccessfully to feed the whale since Friday.

If his state of health allows, the beluga will be transferred in a refrigerated truck to Ouistreham on the Normandy coast where he will be kept for three days in a seawater basin before being taken offshore for release.

In May, an ill orca entered the Seine where it spent several days, but died. EFE


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