Mobilization to rescue a beluga found near Paris

Mobilization to rescue a beluga whale found near Paris


It is a species of protected cetacean, usually living in cold waters, which made an incursion… into a French river: the French authorities and NGOs were mobilized on Friday to rescue a beluga spotted since Tuesday in the Seine. 

The beluga was sighted for the first time on Tuesday and the animal was on Friday afternoon between two locks halfway between Paris and the Normandy port of Le Havre, where the Seine flows.

Authorities French authorities have called for caution and asked “the entire population not to attempt to approach or come into contact with the animal”.

“Even trying to approach him very carefully, it's difficult. It makes a lot of changes in direction,” said Gérard Mauger, vice-president of the Cotentin Cetacean Study Group (GEEC).

On Friday, the beluga had “ the same behavior as yesterday, we have the feeling that he is very evasive. It makes very short appearances on the surface, followed by long apneas,” added the association manager.

According to the Sea Shepherd association, the Seine, “very polluted” and “very noisy” due to important navigation, is not “very welcoming” for cetaceans which are sensitive to noise.

And as of Thursday, the health condition of the beluga, which measures 4 meters in adulthood, was deemed “worrying” by the prefecture of Eure, a department in northwestern France where the animal was spotted. . He “seems to have skin changes and to be thinner,” said the same source.

By approaching about fifty meters, “we made acoustic recordings, with our engines cut, but he did not make sound broadcasts”, regretted Mr. Mauger.

In May, an orca found itself in difficulty in the Seine. The operations to try to save the cetacean failed and the animal finally died of starvation.

The necropsy – a post-mortem examination carried out on an animal – confirmed the “poor physical condition” of the animal. killer whale, an “immature” female over four meters and weighing 1,100 kg, and led to the discovery of a bullet lodged in the base of the mammal's skull. 

This sad ending, “it's what we want to avoid with the beluga. For us, it is necessary to do a DNA test quickly to know his origin and to carry out a repatriation”, declared to AFP the president of Sea Shepherd, Lamya Essemlali.

“The urgency is to feed him with dead fish, probably frozen herring, to prevent it from running out,” she added.

According to the Pelagis observatory, a specialist in marine mammals, this is of the second beluga known in France after a fisherman from the Loire estuary (Centre) had brought one up in his nets in 1948.