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If the beluga discovered five days ago in the Seine a “calm behavior”, it is “very thin and presents cutaneous alterations due to its presence in fresh water”, according to the prefecture of Eure. A “race against time” is on, says the president of Sea Shepherd France, who however has “little hope” of saving him.
How to save the beluga? Five days after being discovered in the Seine, the cetacean, which normally lives in cold waters, was still not feeding on Sunday August 7 and was showing signs of illness.
Asked about the chances of saving the animal, Lamya Essemlali, head of Sea Shepherd, the ocean defense NGO present on the scene, said that experts and authorities are facing a “challenge”, where there are “little hope”, evoking a “race against time”.
Since Friday evening, the beluga, a four-meter cetacean spotted on Tuesday in the Seine and whose presence in this river is exceptional, has been in a lock measuring approximately 125 m by 25 m, 70 km to the north. -west of Paris.
Lack of appetite
Several attempts to feed him have been unsuccessful: herring, trout and even squid… On Saturday, the veterinarians, “given the beluga’s physiological state”, had administered “vitamins and products likely to whets the appetite,” the Eure prefecture said in a statement on Sunday morning.
Beluga in the Seine
The animal still does not eat despite the appetite stimulators used by veterinarians. Although very thin, he is alert and dynamic. Euthanasia is therefore ruled out at this stage and repatriation at sea is under consideration. pic.twitter.com/DtNEMF2UCd
— Sea Shepherd France (@SeaShepherdFran) August 7, 2022
If the beluga adopts a “calm behavior” in this basin of the lock of the Garenne where it entered by itself, “it is very thin and presents cutaneous alterations due to its presence in fresh water”, notes the prefecture .
If the products administered have not “opened his appetite”, he is a little “more dynamic” in the water, noted Isabelle Dorliat-Pouzet, sub-prefect of Évreux during a press briefing, determined that belugas could be “very resilient”.
According to Sea Shepherd, this lack of nutrition is nothing new. “His lack of appetite is surely a symptom of something else, an origin that we do not know, an illness. He is undernourished and it dates back several weeks, even several months. At sea, he no longer ate “, explained Lamya Essemlali.
Also, on Sunday, the time was hardly for optimism about the animal’s chances of survival and the fear that it would suffer the same fate as an orca found in the same river in May was growing. The operations to try to save the cetacean had failed and the animal had finally died of starvation.
However, the option of euthanizing the beluga is “discarded for the moment”, indicated Lamya Essemlali, because “at this stage, it would be premature because it still has vigor, a curious behavior: it turns its head, it reacts to stimuli, it is not amorphous and moribund”.
An extraction to save him?
Among the conceivable hypotheses describing an extraction or an opening of the lock with the hope that he regains the English Channel.
“We are all skeptical about its ability to reach the sea by its own means. Even if we ‘drove’ it with a boat, it would be extremely dangerous, if not impossible”, named the head of Sea Shepherd. In addition, “lately, he tended to go to Paris. It would be a disaster if he arrived there,” said Lamya Essemlali.
The hypothesis which seemed to hold the rope more on Sunday was to extract it from the water, then to “transport it to a place of care so that it could then be put back into the sea”, specified Isabelle Dorliat-Pouzet. There also remains the scenario “of letting him end his life quietly like someone very sick who no longer has much life expectancy”, said the sub-prefect of Évreux.
In any case, it does not seem viable to leave it in the lock where the water is stagnant and warm. “He should be out within the next 24 to 48 hours,” said the Sea Shepherd manager.
According to the Pelagis Observatory, a specialist in marine mammals, the beluga “has an arctic and subarctic distribution. Although the best known population is found in the St. Lawrence estuary (Quebec), the closest to our coasts is found in Svalbard, an archipelago located in the north of Norway (3,000 km from the Seine).
According to the same organization, this is the second beluga known in France after a fisherman from the Loire estuary had brought one up in his nets in 1948.