Seine beluga whale dies, second whale to die in French waters

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

The beluga whale lost in the river Seine in France for the past week has been euthanized after a necessary rescue attempt, environmental organization Sea Shepherd France said on Wednesday.

The beluga whale is the second whale to die in French waters this year. In May, a killer whale became stranded in the Seine and was later found dead.

On Tuesday, rescuers used a crane to lift the beluga whale from the river. He was then placed on a refrigerated truck for a journey of 160 kilometers (100 miles) to the port of Ouistreham, where he would be placed in a saltwater pool to receive treatment.

A veterinarian said the beluga developed breathing complications while being transported and was euthanized on the road.

“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,” Sea Shepherd France said, adding that they are devastated by the outcome.

The whale had been stuck in the Seine for a week and wasn’t eating. The river’s warm water was also affecting his health.

When Sea Shepherd caught the whale on Tuesday, they were still hopeful: “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.” People responded on Twitter asking whether plastics had gotten into his intestines.

It remains a mystery for scientists why the whale swam up the river. Belugas can usually only be found in cold Arctic waters. They rarely swim as far as this beluga whale had been swimming.

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