Conservationists Fear for Beluga Whale Spotted in France's River Seine
14:28 GMT 05.08.2022 (Updated: 14:49 GMT 05.08.2022)
Members of conservation NGO Sea Shepherd went out on the river Seine in a motor boat to monitor the lost beluga whale's position, but the group's chief in France said attempting to lift it from the water and transport it back to sea would only put it at greater risk.
Marine conservationists fear a lost whale spotted in the French River Seine could starve to death if it does not find its way back to sea.
The toothed beluga whale
was spotted on Wednesday swimming the river in the country's north around Courcelles-sur-Seine, far downstream from the capital Paris. The fire brigade in the Eure province of Normandy sent a team to help the lost sea-mammal.
"It's quite an impressive animal, which is white [and] which seems calm. It doesn't seem stressed, surfacing regularly," fire service officer Patrick Herot told French broadcaster TF1.
But on Thursday departmental government official Isabelle Dorliat-Pouzet said the whale was barely moving and drifting between two locks on the river and only surfacing occasionally to breathe.
Members of conservation NGO Sea Shepherd
went out on a motor boat to monitor the creature's position.
"It is condemned to die if it stays in the Seine," Sea Shepherd France president Lamya Essemlali said. "The challenge will now be to help feed it and try to accompany it towards the ocean."
Essemlali warned that attempting to lift the whale from the water and transport it back to sea would only put it at greater risk.
Across the English Channel, numerous whales and porpoises swum into the River Thames as far inland as London in the past two decades.
A five-metre-long, 12-ton female northern bottlenose whale was spotted swimming through the city centre in January 2006. Attempts to rescue 'Willy', as Londoners dubbed her, failed when she suffered seizures as she was being lifted from the water and died.
In November 2018 a beluga whale, nicknamed 'Benny', was spotted in the Thames
near the port of Gravesend, south-east and downriver of London. It later swam back out to sea.
Two large baleen whales, a humpback and what was thought to be a fin whale, were found dead in the river just days apart in October 2019. The fin whale had been seen swimming near Woolwich and Dagenham in east London before its death. The humpback, nicknamed 'Hessy', was found near Greenhithe with "catastrophic" injuries to the face from what was assumed to be a collision with the bow of a ship.
In 2021 a young minke whale swam all the way up the river to Teddington near Richmond in south-west London, above the tidal reaches of the river, where it was stranded on the bank. The whale had to be put to sleep after attempts to rescue it failed.