Stranded beluga whale rescued from Seine river in France
Paris, Aug 10: A beluga whale stranded in the Seine River in northern France was rescued with a crane and giant net in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
The first stage of the rescue operation, which involved crane operators, 24 divers and a dozen veterinarians, took almost six hours.
After initial care on a barge, the animal was then to be placed in a refrigerated truck and transported to the coast, Isabelle Dorliat-Pouzet, secretary general of the Eure prefecture, said ahead of the rescue operation.
Because of the extreme heat in the region, the rescue team plans to wait until nightfall before taking the whale on the 160-kilometer (99-mile) trip to the coastal city of Ouistreham.
"The truck will be refrigerated, at a temperature suited for the animal, humidity, a certain type of comfort, so there is no risk of asphyxiation," Dorliat-Pouzet said.
If all goes well, the whale will then spend three days under medical observation at a specially prepared seawater basin in Ouistreham.
"It could be that he dies now, during the handling, during the journey or at point B [in Ouistreham]," said Isabelle Brasseur of the Marineland sea animal park, which is the largest of its kind in Europe. Marineland and Sea Shepherd France both assisted in the rescue operation.
The 4-meter (around 13-foot), 800-kilogram (roughly 1,800-pound) beluga whale had been stranded since Friday at a river lock in Saint-Pierre-La-Garenne, Normandy, some 130 kilometers (roughly 80 miles) away from the ocean. Activists were concerned for its health as it had refused to eat.
Beluga whales are a protected species typically found in cold Arctic waters.
In May, a killer whale that had become stranded in the Seine was found dead after an operation to save it failed. The animal had been due to be euthanized because of its bad state of health.