“An operation to transport the beluga lost in the Seine will be attempted today in the evening”, told the media the prefecture of Eure, which is piloting the operation to save the animal usually evolving in cold waters.
According to the prefecture, the extraction should begin at 8:00 p.m. and the transport of the cetacean must be carried out by truck to an as yet unspecified destination.
A press briefing from the sub-prefect of Evreux must take place around 5:30 p.m. to present the outlines of the operation.
“Today is a great day for this beluga whale and for everyone involved in its rescue,” Sea Shepherd, the ocean advocacy NGO, said on its website.
“He will be taken out of the water and transported to a salt water basin where he will be placed under surveillance and will benefit from treatment, in the hope that his illness is curable. He will then be released at sea, with, it is hoped, the best chance of survival,” added Sea Shepherd.
The NGO spoke of “an obstacle course” to manage a situation “still very unprecedented in France and for which no one is prepared”.
A member of the Marineland team in Antibes (Alpes-Maritimes), who arrived Monday evening at the largest marine zoo in Europe, estimated with AFP that the operation was “out of the ordinary”, in particular in reason for the site.
The banks of the Seine “are not accessible to vehicles” at this location and “everything must be transported by hand”, explained Isabelle Brasseur. For the specialist, “the priority is to put it back in seawater”.
– “extremely resistant” cetaceans –
Indeed, the experts and the authorities agreed that its presence since Friday evening in this basin of approximately 125 m by 25 m, with stagnant and relatively warm river water, could only be temporary.
“You have to try to understand what he has,” said Ms. Brasseur. “There may be internal degradations that cannot be seen”, although these are “extremely resistant” cetaceans.
Asked about the feasibility of such an operation, considering the size and mass of the animal, Ms. Brasseur argued that Marineland had in the past ensured the extraction and transport of larger animals, such as an orca. born in Antibes and transported to the United States.
The track of euthanasia ruled out, the option of extracting the animal was favored on Monday to the detriment of the opening of the lock in the hope that it goes up the river itself and finds the Channel waters.
“It would be a simple solution, but he is more than 150 km from the estuary, still has to go through a lock, is in poor physical condition and has so far tended to head towards Paris rather than the sea”, added argued Sea Shepherd.
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.