Beluga whale lifted from River Seine dies despite rescue attempt

·2-min read
Beluga whale lifted from River Seine dies despite rescue attempt

A beluga whale which had strayed into the River Seine has died despite attempts to rescue it on Wednesday morning.

The 4m (13ft) whale had been stuck in the river, north-west of Paris, for a week amid growing concerns about its health.

It was removed from the river, with a giant net, on Tuesday night, and transferred to a barge where a dozen vets were waiting to treat it. It was later transferred to a refrigerated truck for transport to a saltwater pool in Normandy where there were hopes it would recover before being released into the sea.

However, just before 11am on Wednesday the team caring for the the whale said it had had to be euthanised after developing breathing difficulties.

The whale after being transferred to the truck (AFP via Getty Images)
The whale after being transferred to the truck (AFP via Getty Images)

Veterinarian Ollivet Courtois said that during the rescue operation, the dangerously thin mammal began to have breathing difficulties, and so experts decided to humanely euthanize the creature.

The whale, which became a local celebrity, was first spotted last week having accidentally veered off its normal path to the Arctic.

The plan had been for the whale to remain in its temporary saltwater home, in the northeastern French port town of Ouistrehamof, for "two to three days" of surveillance and treatment before being towed out to sea, according to Isabelle Dorliat Pouzet, deputy prefect of the town of Evreux.

Beluga Whale rescue attempt - In pictures

Veterinarians take care of a beluga whale that was stranded in the River Seine at Notre Dame de la-Garenne, northern France, on August 9, 2022. - (AFP via Getty Images)
Veterinarians take care of a beluga whale that was stranded in the River Seine at Notre Dame de la-Garenne, northern France, on August 9, 2022. - (AFP via Getty Images)
Veterinarians take care of a beluga whale that was stranded in the River Seine at Notre Dame de la-Garenne, northern France, on August 9, 2022. - (AFP via Getty Images)
Veterinarians take care of a beluga whale that was stranded in the River Seine at Notre Dame de la-Garenne, northern France, on August 9, 2022. - (AFP via Getty Images)
Rescuers pull up a net as they rescue a beluga whale stranded in the River Seine at Notre Dame de la-Garenne, northern France, on August 9, 2022. - (AFP via Getty Images)
Rescuers pull up a net as they rescue a beluga whale stranded in the River Seine at Notre Dame de la-Garenne, northern France, on August 9, 2022. - (AFP via Getty Images)
Rescuers pull up a net as they rescue a beluga whale stranded in the River Seine at Notre Dame de la-Garenne, northern France, on August 9 (AFP via Getty Images)
Rescuers pull up a net as they rescue a beluga whale stranded in the River Seine at Notre Dame de la-Garenne, northern France, on August 9 (AFP via Getty Images)
Rescuers pull up a net as they attempt to rescue a beluga whale stranded in the River Seine at Notre Dame de la-Garenne, northern France (AFP via Getty Images)
Rescuers pull up a net as they attempt to rescue a beluga whale stranded in the River Seine at Notre Dame de la-Garenne, northern France (AFP via Getty Images)
This photograph taken on August 9, 2022, shows the beluga whale that swam up the River Seine before its rescue operation at Notre-Dame-de-la-Garenne, northern France (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
This photograph taken on August 9, 2022, shows the beluga whale that swam up the River Seine before its rescue operation at Notre-Dame-de-la-Garenne, northern France (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
The Beluga whale swims in the lock of Notre Dame de la Garenne prior to be moved, in Saint-Pierre-la-Garenne, west of Paris (AP)
The Beluga whale swims in the lock of Notre Dame de la Garenne prior to be moved, in Saint-Pierre-la-Garenne, west of Paris (AP)
A picture taken on August 9, 2022 shows the beluga whale that swam up the Seine river western France before its rescue operation in Saint-Pierre-la-Garenne. (AFP via Getty Images)
A picture taken on August 9, 2022 shows the beluga whale that swam up the Seine river western France before its rescue operation in Saint-Pierre-la-Garenne. (AFP via Getty Images)
A picture taken on August 9, 2022 shows the beluga whale that swam up the Seine river western France before its rescue operation. (AFP via Getty Images)
A picture taken on August 9, 2022 shows the beluga whale that swam up the Seine river western France before its rescue operation. (AFP via Getty Images)
French gendarmes and fire brigade with Sea Sheperds members attend a meeting near the lock of Notre Dame de la Garenne where a Beluga whale is being prepared to be moved, in Saint-Pierre-la-Garenne, (AP)
French gendarmes and fire brigade with Sea Sheperds members attend a meeting near the lock of Notre Dame de la Garenne where a Beluga whale is being prepared to be moved, in Saint-Pierre-la-Garenne, (AP)
Onlookers wait near the lock of Notre Dame de la Garenne where a Beluga whale is being prepared to be moved, in Saint-Pierre-la-Garenne, west of Paris, France (AP)
Onlookers wait near the lock of Notre Dame de la Garenne where a Beluga whale is being prepared to be moved, in Saint-Pierre-la-Garenne, west of Paris, France (AP)

"Then, nature will take its course," Ms Pouzet said. "We have to be optimistic... the work has been painstakingly prepared."

Authorities earlier said the move carried risks because of the stress on the animal but, the whale couldn’t survive much longer in the Seine's freshwater habitat.

A beluga whale swims between two locks on the Seine river, in Notre-Dame-de-la-Garenne, northwestern France, on August 6, 2022. (AFP via Getty Images)
A beluga whale swims between two locks on the Seine river, in Notre-Dame-de-la-Garenne, northwestern France, on August 6, 2022. (AFP via Getty Images)

Drone footage shot by French fire services last week showed the whale meandering into a stretch of the Seine between Paris and the Normandy city of Rouen that is far inland from the sea.

Conservationists have tried unsuccessfully since Friday to feed fish to the beluga.