French authorities plan to give vitamins to a hungry beluga whale that was stranded in the Seine River near Paris after it refused food.
The whales were first spotted nestling along the Seine on Tuesday, miles in the cold Arctic waters they were used to, and have now swam 44 miles north of Paris.
After rejecting any food that was offered, environmentalists worry they are in a “race against time” to save the beluga.
“It’s really very thin. His bones are prominent. I don’t know if it’s really too late,” said Lamia El-Smalali, head of the marine conservation group Sea Shepherd France.
Rescue workers tried to feed frozen trout and salmon, but they also did not accept.
“He is very emaciated and appears to be having trouble eating,” Isabelle Dorlet-Busier, a senior police official in the Eur department in Normandy who is overseeing the rescue, told a news conference.
She said they hope the beluga injections of the vitamins will help stimulate her appetite.
Ms Dorlett-Busé added that small spots appeared on the beluga, but it was not clear if this was the result of fresh water or signs of health problems.
The authorities are still deciding the best course of action regarding the return of the Beluga to the sea.
They are unsure if they are waiting for the animal to regain its appetite in the waterway before directing it to a more familiar area.
On Friday, Gerard Mauger of the Marine Conversation Society at GECC said that while it is a remarkably social mammal, “it behaves as it was yesterday, it appears to be very fickle. It rises to the surface only briefly, followed by long dives.”
Based on sonar recordings, it was also making very few chirps and the speed that whales are known for, which raised further concerns about the animal’s health.
Rescuers were monitoring the beluga with two drones after it was spotted in the river in Saint-Pierre-la-Garenne.
The 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.
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.