Hopes of saving a lost beluga whale in France’s Seine river ended on Sunday, but rescuers ruled out euthanasia for now.
The beluga was found on August 2, in the river that crosses the French capital and reaches the English Channel. Since Friday (5), it has been between two locks, about 70 km north of Paris. Leaving her in those warm and still waters is no longer an option.
“She has to be transferred within the next 24 to 48 hours as these conditions are not good,” Lamya Essemlali, head of the NGO Sea Shepherd in France, told AFP. Experts say they have “little hope” for the mammal, which is visibly underweight, he laments.
“We all doubt its ability to return to the sea,” he adds. “Even if we manage to take her with a ship, it would be extremely dangerous, or impossible,” says Essemlali, adding that the option of euthanasia has been ruled out for the time being.
The cetacean still has “energy […]turns his head, reacts to stimuli”, he says. Members of the rescue teams have tried to feed him, but have been unsuccessful so far. Another option to consider is to take him out of the water, give him vitamins, examine him and send it overboard.
The beluga is a protected species of cetacean that normally lives in the cold waters of the Arctic.
According to the Pelagis observatory, a specialist in marine mammals, this is the second record in France, after a fisherman in the Loire estuary caught a specimen in his nets in 1948.