Whale Stranded in Seine River Dies Despite Rescue Efforts

The dangerously thin Beluga whale began to have breathing difficulties, and so experts decided to humanely euthanize the mammal as it was being prepared for transfer to a saltwater pool in Normandy

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Veterinarians take care of a beluga whale that was stranded in the River Seine at Notre Dame de la-Garenne, northern France, on Tuesday.
Veterinarians take care of a beluga whale that was stranded in the River Seine at Notre Dame de la-Garenne, northern France, on Tuesday.Credit: JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER - AFP

French authorities say a beluga whale stranded for several days in the Seine River has died after it was successfully removed from the French waterway.

The whale was being prepared for transfer to a saltwater pool in Normandy.
Veterinarian Ollivet Courtois said that during the rescue operation, the dangerously thin white mammal began to have breathing difficulties, and so experts decided to humanely euthanize the creature.

The whale, which became a local celebrity, was first spotted last week having accidentally veered off its normal path to the Arctic.

After spending several days in the river has no digestive activity for unknown reasons, tweeted, saying veterinary exams were done after the beluga was hauled out of water after hours of preparation.

Firefighters and members of a search and rescue team pull up a net as they rescue a Beluga whale which strayed into France's Seine river, near the Notre-Dame-de-la-Garenne lock in Saint-Pierre-la-Garenne, France, on Wednesday.Credit: BENOIT TESSIER/ REUTERS

Conservation group Sea Shepherd France said the beluga was a male with no infectious diseases and that veterinarians would try to re-stimulate the marine mammal's digestion. Conservationists have tried unsuccessfully since Friday to feed fish to the beluga.

Photos posted by Sea Shepherd France show the white mammal lying on a big net that was used to get it out of a river lock.
A veterinary team was planning to transport the 4-meter-long (13-foot-long) whale to a coastal spot in the northeastern French port town of Ouistreham for “a period of care,” according to Lamya Essemlali, president of Sea Shepherd France.

A Beluga whale in the Seine river in Notre Dame de la Garenne, west of Paris. FCredit: Sea Shepherd via AP

The delicate transport was to be made via a refrigerated truck for the approximately 160-kilometer (99-mile) trip.
Authorities were planning to keep the whale in its temporary saltwater home for two to three days of surveillance and treatment before being towed out to sea.
The lost beluga was first seen in France’s river, far from its Arctic habitat, last week. It weighs about 800 kilograms (1,764 pounds).
The L'Eure region prefecture in Normandy said in a statement that beluga whales – who normally live in arctic and subarctic waters, as well as in the Saint-Laurent estuary in Quebec, Canada – sometimes stray into more southern waters and can temporarily survive in freshwater.

A beluga whale is seen swimming up France's Seine river, near a lock in Courcelles-sur-Seine, western France, on Friday.Credit: JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER - AFP

Authorities said that while the move carries its own mortality risk because of the stress on the animal, the whale couldn't survive much longer in the Seine’s freshwater habitat.
They remain hopeful it will survive after it responded to a cocktail of antibiotics and vitamins administered in the last few days and rubbed itself on the lock’s wall to remove patches that had appeared on its back.

In late May, a gravely ill orca which became separated from its pod and swam dozens of miles up the Seine died of natural causes after attempts to guide it back to sea failed.
A month later, another whale, believed to be a 10-metre-long (33 foot) Minke whale, was spotted in the Seine, a busy waterway that links Paris to the sea.

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