Beluga Whale Dies in France During Last-Ditch Rescue Mission

PARIS – A malnourished beluga whale that had been stranded in the Seine for days, causing its health to rapidly decline, died on Wednesday hours after being brought out of the water during a battle. Translate to save the last ditch.

Florence Ollivet-Courtois, a veterinarian, said the whale died after scientists realized it was having difficulty breathing while being transported by truck to a saltwater tank.

Dr Ollivet-Courtois said: “Suffering was evident for this animal, and so we decided it was not appropriate to release it and we had to proceed with the procedure to euthanize it. video posted by state authorities from the Calvados region in Normandy, where the belugas are expected to stay under observation in a basin and receive medical treatment.

It was a tragic end to an ambitious rescue operation that ultimately aimed to return the whale to the sea. Officials say the beluga’s fate has drawn attention far beyond France, generating grants and financial aid from groups and individuals.

“We are devastated by the tragic outcome we know is very likely,” Sea Shepherd France, a conservation group, wrote in a Posts on Twitter on Wednesday, saying culling operations “are risky but necessary to give an animal an opportunity to perish.”

Beluga, a protected species commonly found in the frigid waters of the Arctic, was discovered more than a week ago in the Seine, heading towards Paris. Since Friday, it has been blocked near a padlock in Saint-Pierre-la-Garenne, about 40 miles northwest of the capital, causing growing concerns as its health rapidly deteriorates. grant.

Sea Shepherd France, a company that monitors the situation on the ground, says several attempts to feed the whale have failed, even when it is given vitamins and products to stimulate its appetite.

Authorities considered several rescue options, including unlocking and spurring it to sail towards the English Channel by boat. However, experts have dismissed the attempt, saying it would stress the already weakened beluga and possibly pose other risks.

Authorities ultimately decided to attempt to pull the whale out of the water with the intention of returning it to the sea, an option they initially did not like because of its complexity and health risks. related it does to the whale.

Isabelle Dorliat-Pouzet, a state official in the Eure region where the beluga was found, told reporters: “It’s a choice not necessarily made, because we don’t know if the beluga will be. can bear it or not. on Tuesday. She added: “We’re not 100% sure about it yet, but it seems to us that it’s better to try it than not – that’s the benefit of it.”

The operation began late on Tuesday and involved dozens of firefighters, veterinarians and scientists, lasting through the night. Around 4 a.m. on Wednesday, after nearly six hours of work, the beluga was finally pulled out of the river.

Image shared on Twitter by Sea Shepherd France shows divers trying to lure it into a large net. Once in the net, the 13-foot, 1,800-pound animal was lifted by a crane and placed on a nearby barge, where several veterinarians immediately attended to it.

“It’s alive,” Mrs Dorliat-Pouzet told French news channel BFM TV on Wednesday. “But it’s very thin for a beluga, and that doesn’t bode well for its longevity in the medium term.”

The beluga was then loaded into a refrigerated truck bound for a basin in the English Channel port of Ouistreham. It is expected to spend several days there monitoring in preparation for its release.

It remains unclear why the whale strayed so far from its natural habitat. The French observatory Pelagis, which specializes in marine mammals, said in a statement that the nearest beluga population lived near the Svalbard archipelago, in northern Norway, about 1,860 miles from the Seine.

“These cases of wandering remain unusual and unexplained, possibly due to a variety of factors such as health status, age (adults are more easily dispersed), social isolation,” the Observatory wrote. , environmental conditions”.

This is only the second time a beluga whale has been seen in France, according to the observatory. The first was in 1948, when a fish was pulled from the mouth of the Loire in a fisherman’s net. But other animals have strayed into the country’s rivers recently, including a sickly orca that died in the Seine in May.

In September 2018, a beluga was discovered in a stretch of the Thames in the UK.

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