Last chance rescue of the Seine beluga whale

Sighting of whale in river, animal news
Beluga whale lost in France's Seine river, France, August 8, 2022. credit: Reuters/Benoit Tessier

UPDATE: Sea Shepherd France confirmed Wednesday morning on Twitter that the beluga whale has been euthanized: “It is with heavy hearts that we announce that the beluga did not survive the translocation which was risky, but essential to give an otherwise doomed animal a chance. Following the deterioration of his condition, the veterinarians took the decision to euthanize him.”

Environmental group Sea Shepherd France announced on Tuesday that they will attempt to catch the beluga whale, take him out of the water and transport him to a saltwater pool where he will be treated.

The beluga whale has been stuck for a week in France’s River Seine, far from the Arctic waters where he usually lives. The river’s warm water is harming his health, and he isn’t eating.

Drone footage on Monday showed the white beluga whale coming up for air as he turned slow circles just below the water’s surface.

“Today is a great day for this beluga and for everyone involved in its rescue. He will be taken out of the water and taken to a pool of salt water where he will be placed under surveillance and will receive treatment, hoping that his illness is curable,” Sea Shepherd said in a statement, calling the operation the last chance for the beluga.

“He will then be released at sea, with hopefully the best chance of survival,” it added. “This is a great first in France because our country is not used to dealing with this kind of situation and is not yet well prepared.”

“An operation of this sort, translocating a cetacean is very, very complicated. It’s complex, and the risk is that the animal stresses and dies from stress,” Lamya Essemlali, president of Sea Shepherd France, said.

“It often happens even with healthy animals, and this is a very weak individual. But we don’t have the choice. He has to move from here because this environment is not suitable for his health,” she added. “We are taking this, but we try to minimise the risk, maximise his chances and hopefully, we hope for the best, but we would have done everything we can for him.”

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