With an orca, then a beluga, the Seine has welcomed surprising occupants in recent months. Within a few weeks, the two cetaceans were observed in the waterway, far from their usual place of residence. An “unprecedented” phenomenon, estimates the president of the Sea Sherpherd association Lamya Essemlali, with BFMTV.com.
The beluga, also called the white whale, is indeed accustomed to “much more arctic” latitudes, explains Léa David, researcher at the ÉcoOcéan Institut in Montpellier, specializing in marine ecology, for BFMTV.com.
“It’s very surprising to see it so low”, whereas it rather prefers the Norwegian coasts and does not frequent a river in general, apart from the St. Lawrence, in Canada, according to the researcher.
Even chosen for the killer whale which had been stuck in the mouth of the Seine for two months, this type of cetacean not necessarily being observed in fresh water, according to Léa David.
How to explain their presence in this environment? “It’s a big mystery. No one has a definitive answer,” warns the president of Sea Shepherd. But several hypotheses are studied.
In a press release, the observatory of mammals and marine birds Pelagis, in charge of the expertise of the animal, estimates that the beluga was undoubtedly lost for “multiple reasons”, evoking pell-mell “the state of health, age (subadults disperse more easily), social isolation, environmental conditions, etc.”
Researcher Léa David notes for her part that the beluga, like the orca, were discovered alone, without their congeners. For her, it is very likely that the beluga is “sick”, which explains why it is “lost”, “disoriented” and that it has lost its group.
The cetacean could also be a “pioneer”, pushed to travel by the desire to discover a new territory either, “like a human”, or even “driven by hunger”, suggests the scientist.
“In recent years, in Iceland, we have seen killer whales starving because there is less accessible prey due to climate change”, she worries, also remembering having observed a family of killer whales. killer whales and a gray whale, in the Mediterranean, far from their natural habitat. “These are alarm bells,” she said.
A traumatic “one-off event”?
The president of the Sea Shepherd association leans more towards a traumatic “one-time event” which explained that the animal was isolated from its own. The orca as the beluga have also been observed “in the same mouth in Le Havre”, underlines Lamya Essemlali. “Obviously this raises questions,” she says.
For her, the two cetaceans may have been lost, victims of “sound disturbances” in the mouth of Le Havre, while wind turbines are currently under construction in the region.
“The (maritime) traffic will intensify. We fear that it will become a trapping area”, launches the president of the NGO, while cetaceans are “extremely sensitive” to noise.
Beluga whale “feeding operation” planned
For now, the priority is to save the beluga. “We want to prevent him from starving,” says Sea Shepherd, which is planning a “feeding operation”, while the animal is already showing signs of weight loss.
“Precise snapshots and videos could be taken and suggest that (the health status of the animal) is worrying,” reported the Eure prefecture on Thursday in a press release.
The killer whale that happened in the Seine several weeks ago died in mid-July after being stuck in the river for two months. The emergency services could only note his death after several rescue attempts.
Original article published on BFMTV.com