France to put down Seine killer whale
Paris, May 30: An operation to save a killer whale stranded in the Seine ended in failure, and a group of experts recommended putting down the animal, French officials said on Sunday.
Local authorities said the animal appeared to be in a "critical state of health."
"The sound recordings also revealed vocal calls similar to cries of distress," said officials with the Seine maritime authority.
The decision to euthanize the animal comes after scientists tried to lure it back to sea by playing orca calls. But the whale responded "erratically" and "incoherently" to the sounds emitted by a drone.
Officials believe that the whale is suffering from mucormycosis, also known as black fungus. The disease starts by spreading across the skin and can eventually reach organs like the lungs, the heart, and the brain, possibly explaining the animal's confused reaction.
A group of experts unanimously concluded that the only solution was to euthanize the whale and end its suffering.
Lone killer whale
The male 4-meter (13-feet) orca was first spotted in the iconic French river on April 5 some 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) from the English Channel. It has since been spotted multiple times in the Seine, including around 60 kilometers upstream.
Killer whale sightings are rare in the English Channel. Some have speculated that the whale was there due to his illness, because relatively calmer waters made it easier to hunt.
The authorities did not provide details on how or where the animal would be euthanized.
Orcas can survive in fresh water but the environment is not good for their health. Additionally, orcas have a tight social structure and are used to hunting in packs, which poses additional problems for a stranded individual.