A beluga whale, whose life was in danger after falling into the Seine, was lifted out of the river on Wednesday as authorities continued to work on its rescue.
The whale’s removal was overseen by marine conservation group Sea Shepherd France.
The beluga swam almost halfway to Paris before local authorities locked the all-white whale in a large system of locks. They will aim to take the whale to another navigation lock closer to the sea and with salt water.
According to Lamya Essemlali, president of conservation group Sea Shepherd France, a medical team is planning to transport the 4-meter-long whale to a coastal location in the north-eastern French port city of Ouistreham for “a period of care”.
Experts believe the whale is sick and in a race against time to survive, she said.
According to Isabelle Dorliat Pouzet, deputy prefect of the city of Evreux, the whale would remain in its temporary saltwater home for “two to three days” for monitoring and treatment before being towed out to sea.
“Then nature will take its course,” said Pouzet. “We have to be optimistic … the work has been meticulously prepared.”
A team of around 80 people, including veterinarians and environmentalists, gathered near a Seine lock in the Eure region on Tuesday to plan the exodus of the new local celebrity.
Conservation groups said it would take 24 people to load the Beluga into a refrigerated truck for the 100-mile journey to Ouistreham, calling the saltwater transfer a “huge operation”.
Because the region is extremely hot, the team planned to wait until nightfall before moving the ethereal white creature. It weighs about 800 kilograms.
Rescuers hope to spare the whale the fate of an orca that strayed into the Seine and died in May.
Authorities said that while the move carries its own mortality risk due to the stress on the animal, the whale cannot survive much longer in the Seine’s freshwater habitat.
They continue to hope it will survive after reacting to a cocktail of antibiotics and vitamins administered over the past few days and rubbing itself against the castle’s wall to remove stains that had appeared on its back .
Sea Shepherd’s Essemlali said medical monitoring of the saltwater pool would help determine if the whale was “suffering from something we can help them with or an incurable disease.”
Drone footage captured by France’s fire brigade last week showed the whale snaking its way into a stretch of the Seine between Paris and the Norman city of Rouen that lies far inland from the sea.
Conservationists have been trying unsuccessfully to feed the Beluga with fish since Friday. Sea Shepherd fears the whale is slowly starving to death in the water.
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/starving-beluga-whale-lifted-out-of-river-seine-in-late-night-rescue-mission-41902104.html Starving beluga whale lifted from Seine during night rescue mission