August 12, 2022


PARIS – France’s emergency services are facing a race against time to rescue a beluga whale that swam into the Seine River and headed south towards Paris.

“It’s definitely mystifying,” Emmanuel Pascoe-Ville, operations coordinator for the Normandy province of Lourmandy, told NBC News on Thursday.

The beluga, an endangered species best suited to freezing arctic and subarctic waters, was first spotted on Tuesday, Pascoe Viel, who is responsible for its monitoring, said.

He added that firefighters, police officers and members of the military were brought in to help guide the whale back to its natural saltwater habitat, along with the Coast Guard.

“We had a helicopter hovering over the water to help us track down the beluga,” he said. Even drones are used. We will decide how best to help the beluga, how to return it to the sea. ”

On Wednesday, he added, the creature had been “steady for three to four hours and I was able to notice it from the boats when it came out for breath.”

He said the locals had been warned to give a wide berth to the beluga to avoid increasing pressure on it.

Lamia El Samali, president of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which helps with rescue efforts, said they were concerned because the whale was “too skinny.”

“If we don’t feed him quickly, it’s hopeless,” she said. “will die.”

She added that they were trying to lure the mammals back to the Seine Estuary with a diet of fresh fish.

“If we just take it out to sea from the Seine, its chances of surviving will be poor,” she said, adding that scientists will try to obtain DNA samples to locate the whale – most likely Canada, Norway or Russia. Once that was determined, she said she hoped they could fly him home.

Beluga whales are recognizable by their white skin and bulbous heads, usually between 13 and 20 feet in length, according to the U.S. National Ocean Service, which also notes that they are social, friendly creatures that typically travel in pods. However, solitary people sometimes venture far south and can temporarily survive in fresh water.

It is not clear how this beluga whale ended up in the Seine, as its polluted waters and heavy river traffic add additional threats to the whale’s gaze.

“It’s quite a mystery how they got there,” said Liz Sandman, co-founder of Marine Connection, a British marine wildlife conservation group that helps provide information to French authorities.

“Don’t expect to see a beluga whale near a European capital,” she added.

“This white whale is very far from its home,” she said. “It’s going to be dehydrated, not really overfed, and it’s too far south.”

She added that there was “another solitary beluga whale in Norway”, but “even this is the southernmost”.

Pascoe-Ville added that there had been “three separate incidents of mammals leaving the sea to be discovered in French rivers” in the past three months.

In May, an orca died in the Seine after attempts to return it to the ocean using a drone emitting whale sounds failed. It was later revealed that he was suffering from onychomycosis, a fungal disease that begins in the skin before attacking vital organs.

Then, in June, a 33-foot minke whale was seen in the Seine, but returned to sea after a short stay in the river.

Watching whales, dolphins and walruses is likely to be more common in areas across Europe due to the emergence of climate change, Sandman said.

“As the snow melts, animals can reach sites they were previously only able to reach once or twice a year. Animals are now looking for new sites and water further afield. Migration patterns are changing. Climate change isn’t everything, but it is,” she said. It certainly has an effect.

Nancy Ing reports in Paris and Laila Sakoor in London.

News agency Contributed.



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