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The beluga lost in the Seine refuses to feed, “very fleeing”

JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER / AFP A beluga whale is seen swimming up France’s Seine river, near a lock in Courcelles-sur-Seine, western France on August 5, 2022. – The beluga whale appears to be underweight and officials are worried about its health, regional authorities said. The protected species, usually found in cold Arctic waters, had made its way up the waterway and reached a lock some 70 kilometers (44 miles) from Paris. The whale was first spotted on August 2, 2022 in the river that flows through the French capital to the English Channel, and follows the rare appearance of a killer whale in the Seine just over two months ago. (Photo by Jean-François MONIER / AFP)

JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER / AFP

The beluga lost in the Seine refuses to feed, “very fleeing”

ANIMALS – The beluga, spotted in the Seine on Tuesday, entered a lock on Friday evening, 70 km from Paris, a situation which represents a “risk of additional stress” for this cetacean, which refuses to feed.

The lock in which entered the beluga, a protected species of cetacean usually living in cold waters, is now closed and prohibited to navigation until further notice, according to the prefecture of Eure.

But this situation can also represent “a risk of additional stress that we do not want to take”, warned AFP the president of the NGO Sea Shepherd, Lamya Essemlali. She lamented that “Attempts to feed in the river have so far not interested the beluga” but that there remains a hope that “it’s different in the lock”.

“We would like him to eat, but if he does not react positively it will become complicated”she continued about the animal, now isolated in the lock of Notre-Dame de la Garenne near Vernon, 70 km northwest of the capital.

“Very advanced state of thinness”

She was pessimistic about the possible consequences if the animal does not eat: “Veterinarians specializing in beluga whales tell us that we must act quickly, his state of thinness being very advanced, and getting him out of the water to provide him with care is going to be very difficult”.

Gérard Mauger, vice-president of the Cotentin Cetacean Study Group (GEEC) continued to observe the beluga on Friday. “He has the same behavior as yesterday, very evasive. It makes very short appearances on the surface, followed by long apneas.said Mauger.

Approaching about fifty meters, “we made acoustic recordings, with our engines cut, but he did not make sound emissions”, he regretted. Four boats were in the area on Friday, according to Mauger, that of the Sdis (Departmental Fire and Rescue Service), the OFB (French Office for Biodiversity), Sea Shepherd and the SNSM (National Society for Sea Rescue). ).

The Orc’s Precedent

In early July, Sea Shepherd announced that it had observed a cetacean presented as a fin whale in the Le Havre estuary. In May, an orca found itself in difficulty in the Seine between Rouen and Le Havre. The operations to try to save the cetacean had failed and the animal had finally died of starvation.

The necropsy – a post-mortem examination performed on an animal – had confirmed the “poor physical condition” killer whale, female “immature” more than four meters and 1,100 kg. It had uncovered a bullet lodged in the base of the mammal’s skull.

‘No certainty’ could not be established on the link between the ammunition and the death of the killer whale, the experts favoring “the assumption that the animal died of starvation”. This sad ending “That’s what we want to avoid with the beluga. For us, it is necessary to do a DNA test quickly to know its origin and to carry out a repatriation “stressed Essemlali.

“The emergency is already to feed him with dead fish, probably frozen herring, to prevent him from running out because the environment is not very welcoming for him”, said Essemlali. According to the Pelagis observatory, a specialist in marine mammals, this is the second beluga known in France after a fisherman from the Loire estuary had brought one up in his nets in 1948.

In 1966, another individual had traveled up the Rhine to Germany and in 2018, a beluga was observed in the Thames estuary in England, recalls Pelagis. “These cases of wandering remain unusual and unexplained, with likely multiple reasons such as health status, age (subadults disperse more easily), social isolation, environmental conditions, etc. »continues the observatory.

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