by Samuel Finetti
The specimen was first noticed on Tuesday. A mystery how he got into the river, an environment that was not hospitable to him. Now the experts are trying to push it towards the mouth
That belugas migrated during the hottest season was a fact well known to all marine biologists on the planet. Normally, however, these distinctive whitish whales migrate north from the waters of Canada and the Bering Strait. It is therefore a mystery how one specimen managed to swim south until it took the Seine and arrived a few kilometers from Paris.
The first sighting was on a stretch of the great French river near Rouen on Tuesday. Firefighters and a research team from the French Biodiversity Agency intervened immediately. The mammal was identified thanks to a drone: according to the first finds, it seemed thinner than canonical size – a beluga can reach 5 meters in length and easily exceed a ton – and with abnormal spots on the skin.
Symptoms, according to experts for the specimen’s precarious physical conditions: These whales cannot survive, if not for a short time, in fresh water. For this reason, every effort is made to push the fish towards the Seine estuary. The operation has so far failed due to difficulties in approaching: the mammal has been blocked between two dams about ninety kilometers northeast of the capital since Thursday, without experts being able to assess its conditions, since it is very elusive due to the unfamiliar environment in which it is located located. Dozens of boats sail along the Seine, especially in this stretch, and the seabed is considerably lower (and polluted) than the seabed where the shoals of this protected species live. This explains the order issued by local authorities, who have urged citizens to stay away from banks as much as possible.
The new overtures of the last few hours have yielded little results. Yesterday, Grard Mauger, vice president of the Transalpine Whale Study Group, admitted to AFP: At this point we are wondering what to do. At this moment, explained Lamya Essemlali, President of Sea Shepherd France, the priority is that it is fed fish, also frozen, so that it does not starve.
A beluga whale was spotted in it #France‘s Seine, 80 kilometers northwest of #Paris. It’s unclear how the beluga got so far removed from its natural habitat. Experts are working to assess his health.#Beluga #Whale pic.twitter.com/hwUSb1FtL4
– Our World (@ OurWorld91027476) August 5, 2022
Malnutrition had caused the death of the orca that had always found itself in the Seine last May: unable to orient itself towards the sea, its carcass had been recovered and an autopsy had also found an old bullet in its skull. Another case less than a month later: a whale about ten meters long was sighted between the bends in the river.
It is more than unusual for fish like this to venture into the French hinterland. The Pelagis Observatory, which specializes in marine mammals, reports only one precedent involving a beluga: it was in 1948, when a fisherman in the waters of the Loire Estuary found a specimen tangled in recently cast nets.
August 5, 2022 (change August 5, 2022 | 19:35)
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