Beluga whale lifted out of River Seine by rescuers, trucked to Normandy
SAINT-PIERRE-LA-GARENNE, France — A beluga whale, whose life was at risk after it strayed into the River Seine, was lifted out of the water early on Wednesday as authorities worked on its rescue.
The extraction of the 800 kg (1,760 lb) cetacean, which took six hours, was witnessed by a Reuters photographer and by the marine conservation group Sea Shepherd France.
The all-white beluga had swum nearly halfway to Paris before local authorities confined it in a large lock system. It is now being transported in a refrigerated lorry to the coastal town of Ouistreham, in Normandy, where it will be put in a salt water lock.
Despite the success of the first stage of the rescue operation, there are still doubts about the chances of survival for the whale, which should normally weigh 1,200 kg.
“The veterinarians are not necessarily optimistic concerning the beluga’s health,” Isabelle Dorliat-Pouzet, secretary general of the Eure prefecture, told BFM TV.
“It’s horribly thin for a beluga and that does not bode well for its life expectancy for the medium term,” she said.
In late May, a gravely ill orca swam dozens of miles up the Seine and died of natural causes after attempts to guide it back to sea failed.
In September 2018, a beluga whale was spotted in the River Thames near Gravesend, east of London, for a few days, in what was then the most southerly sighting of a beluga on British shores. The whales typically live in pods in Arctic coastal waters.