The beluga spotted Tuesday morning in the Seine returned this Friday evening to a lock, about 70 km from Paris, is “thinned” and his state of health is “worrying”, announces the prefecture of Eure. “Attempts to feed in the river have so far not interested the beluga,” explained the president of the NGO Sea Shepherd, Lamya Essemlali. His teams took turns all night by his side without success.
State services, firefighters, SNSM, French Biodiversity Office (OFB), Cotentin Cetacean Study Group (GEEC) and the Pelagis laboratory were mobilized all day to assess the health status. disturbing” of the animal which “seems to present cutaneous alterations and to be emaciated”.
“He has the same behavior as yesterday (Thursday), we have the feeling that he is very elusive. It makes very short appearances on the surface, followed by long apneas”, indicated Gérard Mauger, vice-president of the GGEC: “Even trying to approach it with great care, it is difficult. He makes a lot of changes in direction. »
Complicated behavior to manage
The lock in which the beluga entered is now closed and prohibited to navigation until further notice. But this situation can also represent “a risk of additional stress that we do not want to take”, warned Lamya Essemlali. “We would like him to eat, but if he does not react positively”, she continued about the animal, now isolated in the lock of Notre-Dame de la Garenne near Vernon, 70 km northwest of the capital.
Gérard Mauger described a “well-toned animal, which spends very little time on the surface and performs long apneas”, a sign that its lung capacity “remains good”, but a behavior which complicates the task of rescuers, the prefecture indicating that the cetacean “flees the embarkation and does not allow itself to be guided in the direction of the mouth of the Seine”. “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 promises to be very difficult,” adds Lamya Essemlali.
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The beluga is a protected cetacean species that normally lives in cold waters. The authorities appeal for caution and ask “the entire population not to attempt to approach or come into contact with the animal to facilitate the work of all State services, mobilized “for the preservation of wildlife”.
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.