October 3, 2022

Environmentalists in France are planning a rescue mission for a underweight beluga whale that was caught swimming over the Seine.

Rescuers were monitoring the beluga with two drones after it was spotted in the river in Saint-Pierre-la-Garenne, 50 miles northwest of Paris, on Wednesday.

The whales barely moved on Thursday, falling quietly between two locks on the river, said Isabel Dorleat-Pouzet, an official with the EIOR department.

Drone footage showed a beluga whale swimming slowly, its silhouette white just below the waterline, ascending to breathe.

It is not yet known why the animal has deviated from its natural habitat in the cold Arctic waters, passing through the port of Rouen and dozens of miles up a busy waterway towards the French capital.

Members of the public are urged to stay away from the animal that appears to be underweight,

“The challenge now is to help feed her and try to accompany her towards the ocean,” said Lamia Esmali, president of the environmental group Sea Shepherd France.

She said that taking the beluga out of the water was out of the question as it would be too risky for her.

A firefighter looks at the screen while a drone flies over the Seine River watching the movements of a beluga whale in Saint-Pierre-la-Garenne, France


The all-white beluga usually lives in the arctic and subarctic oceans, although it sometimes strays into southern waters and estuaries and can temporarily survive in fresh water.

French firefighters responsible for monitoring the Seine whale said their first priority is to assess its health before considering whether to intervene.

In late May, a seriously ill orca died that had separated from its pod and swam dozens of miles up the Seine of natural causes after attempts to guide it out to sea failed.

A month later, another whale, believed to be a 10 m (33 ft) minke whale, was seen in the Seine.

In September 2018, a beluga whale was seen in the Thames near Gravesend for a few days, in what at the time was the most southern sighting of a beluga whale on British shores.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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