“The vital prognosis is engaged. We are really very, very worried. His state of health is very degraded”, explained to AFP Gérard Mauger, vice-president of the GECC, an association based in Cherbourg commissioned by the French Office of Biodiversity (OFB) for the study and preservation of marine mammals in the Channel.
“The longer she stays in fresh water, the more it will accelerate the deterioration of her state of health. She is very far from the sea. It is really complicated to find solutions to try to encourage her to return to the path of salt water”, added this retired high school principal who founded the GECC in 1997.
The length of the animal “very thin” but probably weighing more than a ton is “complicated to estimate” but “we are in the 4/5 meters” specified Mr. Mauger, “to the shape of its fin it is a male, even if the fin is completely down”.
The killer whale “has done quite a bit of road in fresh water. There it stagnates a little bit but the trend is that it goes up the Seine inland”, he added.
Seen for the first time on May 16 between Honfleur and Le Havre, near the Pont de Normandie, it “very probably arrived already weakened towards the Seine estuary”, he continues.
“Her state of health makes it more comfortable for her to be in a river because it is less agitated. She spends less energy”, but “it is more complicated to feed: there is less prey than at sea. And she is all alone when they are animals that hunt in packs,” he said.
Helping the animal is complicated because approaching it risks stressing it and “an animal in poor health will be much more sensitive to stress”, explains Mr. Mauger.
The GECC recalls that the killer whale is a protected species. “It is against the law to intentionally disturb it,” said Mauger. It can be dangerous to approach it because it can transmit possible viruses or cause an accident while moving.
A prefectural decree is being prepared to protect both the animal and the population, according to Mr. Mauger.
The report of killer whales in the English Channel is “very, very exceptional”, according to Mr. Mauger.