Rescuers to bring whale stranded in French river into salt water

Rescuers to bring whale stranded in French river into salt water

PARIS (AP) – French environmentalists prepared on Tuesday to take a beluga whale that strayed into the Seine last week to a saltwater pool in Normandy in hopes of saving the life of the dangerously thin marine mammal .

According to Lamya Essemlali, president of the conservation group, a medical team is planning to transport the 4 meter long whale to a seaside location in the northeastern 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”.

With the region experiencing extreme heat, the team plans to wait until nightfall before moving the ethereal white creature. It weighs about 800 kilograms (1,764 pounds).

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.