France studies rescue for beluga whale that appeared in Seine river

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Rescue services and environmental experts try to assess the health of a beluga whale who wandered down to the River Seine, in France and are considering rescue options, as the cold Arctic waters are better suited for the animal.

Since the beluga was spotted on Wednesday, rescue services have been monitoring the animal with drones, but the whale barely moved on Thursday.

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According to Isabelle Dorliat-Pouzet, an officer in the department of Eure, she was left floating between the two locks on the river.

Drone footage shows the whale swimming slowly, its white silhouette just below the waterline, then rising for air.

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It was unclear why the whale had wandered so far from its natural habitat, tens of kilometers on a busy waterway and almost halfway from Paris through the port of Rouen.

“The challenge now will be to help feed it and try to accompany it towards an ocean,” explained Lamya Essemlali, head of the environmental group Sea Shepherd France.

She said taking the beluga out of the water was out of the question as it would be risky for the animal.

White belugas typically live in the arctic and subarctic oceans, although they sometimes stray to more southerly waters or river estuaries and can temporarily survive in freshwater.

The local fire department, responsible for monitoring the whale, said its first priority is to assess its health before considering whether to intervene or not.

In late May, a critically ill orca who broke away from her community and swam tens of kilometers upstream of the Seine died of natural causes after attempts to guide her back to sea failed.

A month later, another whale, believed to be a 10-meter-long Minke whale, was sighted in the Seine.

In September 2018, a beluga whale was spotted in the River Thames near Gravesend, England for a few days in what was then the sighting of a beluga farther south on British shores.

Source: CNN Brasil

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