Rescuers fought to save a beluga whale that had strayed from arctic waters to warm French climes. Unfortunately, the mammal is now dead.
Paris/Caen – Numerous helpers in France self-sacrificingly took part in a rescue operation to bring a disoriented beluga whale back to its original habitat: But in the end the efforts were not crowned with success: the sea creature stuck in a Seine lock died.
After being rescued from a lock in the municipality of Saint-Pierre-la-Garenne, the beluga whale’s breathing deteriorated noticeably during transport to a seawater basin in Normandy, the prefecture of the city of Caen said. Due to breathing problems, the stray whale finally had to be euthanized, according to the responsible official veterinarian. The aim of the rescue operation was to bring the beluga whale, which had already been located in the Seine at the beginning of August, to Ouistreham – a town on the English Channel – for treatment in a refrigerated truck.
Beluga whale strays from arctic waters into the Seine – and dies
More than 80 experts were involved in lifting the beluga whale out of the lock around four o’clock on Wednesday morning. A first examination confirmed the poor condition of the emaciated whale, whose habitat is usually arctic waters off Russia, Alaska or Canada. Activists from the environmental organization Sea Shepherd released footage:
Beluga whale from the Seine died – rescue operation not crowned with success
The chances of success were previously rated as low by veterinarians, but there were still hopes for a happy ending. The transport of the white whale, which was kept moist with cloths, started around 6.30 a.m., unfortunately in the end in vain. It is still unclear what will happen to the deceased animal. It is not known why the beluga, which is actually native to extremely cold regions, got lost in the Seine. There are several dangers that sea creatures face.
It is not the first time that a large whale has gotten lost in the French river: in May 2022 an orca starved to death in the Seine after weeks of odyssey, in July a fin whale was probably sighted in a river estuary near Le Havre. That a beluga whale has strayed to France has only been recognized for the second time: such a find was last documented in 1948, by a fisherman in the Loire estuary. (PF with dpa)