A beluga whale, the all-white one that lives in Arctic waters, was spotted on Wednesday (3) in the Seine River, which crosses France and flows into the English Channel.
French rescue services and environmental experts are studying what rescue options are.
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The mammal is being monitored with drones, but the whale barely moved on Thursday (it floated between two locks on the river).
Image of a beluga whale at sea — Photo: AP Photo/John Bazemore
Drone footage showed the whale swimming slowly, its white silhouette just below the waterline, and rising for air.
It was unclear why the whale strayed so far from its natural habitat. She has swam tens of kilometers on a busy waterway and is almost halfway to Paris.
“The challenge now will be to help feed it and try to accompany it towards the ocean,” said Lamya Essemlali, head of the environmental group Sea Shepherd France.
She said taking the beluga out of the water was out of the question as it would be risky for her.
White belugas typically live in the arctic and subarctic oceans, although they sometimes stray to more southern waters and river estuaries. They can temporarily survive in fresh water.
The local fire department, responsible for monitoring the whale, said the priority is to assess the animal’s health to decide whether to intervene.
In late May, a critically ill orca swam tens of kilometers upriver and died of natural causes.
Orca whale lost in Seine river is in fragile health
A month later, another whale, probably a minke, was sighted in the Seine.
In September 2018, a beluga whale was spotted in the River Thames for a few days.