A 4-meter-long whale ran aground in the river last week and is now fighting for its life until it moves away.
French environmentalists and marine experts have begun preparations to move a beluga whale stray into the Seine last week to a saltwater basin in Normandy, in the hope of saving the life of a dangerously thin marine mammal that is already sick and malnourished.
A medical group plans to transport the 4-meter (13-foot) whale to a coastal point in the northeastern French port town of Ouistreham for “care for a while,” said Lamya Essemlali, president. French conservation group Sea Shepherd, said on Tuesday.
Experts think the whale was sick and was racing against time to survive, she said.
According to Isabelle Dorliat Pouzet, deputy governor of the town of Evreux, the whale will stay in a temporary saltwater house for “two to three days” before being towed out into the sea.
“Then nature will take its course,” Pouzet said. “We have to be optimistic… the job is well prepared.”
A team of about 80 people, including veterinarians and environmentalists, gathered Tuesday near a Seine River lock in the Eure region to plan a new local celebrity exodus.
“The special thing here is that the banks of the River Seine are closed to traffic… everything will have to be done by hand,” Isabelle Brasseur of the Marineland marine park in southern France, Europe’s largest, told AFP. .
Conservation groups say it will take 24 people to load beluga into a refrigerated truck for the roughly 160-kilometer (99-mile) trip to Ouistreham, describing the saltwater transfer as a “huge operation.”
Since the area is experiencing extreme weather, the team plans to wait until nightfall before moving the ethereal white creature. It weighs around 800kg (1,764lb).
Rescuers hope to free the whale the fate of an orca that got lost in the Seine and died in May.
Authorities said that while the move carried the risk of death from the stress of the animal, the whale could not have survived longer in the freshwater habitat of the Seine.
They still hope it will survive after it reacted with an antibiotic and vitamin injected over the past few days and rubbed itself against the wall of the padlock to remove plaque on its back.
Sea Shepherd’s Essemlali said medical surveillance in the saltwater basin will help determine if the whale “is suffering from something that we can cure or is terminally ill”.
Conservationists have been trying unsuccessfully since Friday to feed the beluga. Sea Shepherd fears the whale is slowly starving to death in the waterway.