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Stranded beluga whale euthanised after removal from French river

The dangerously thin white mammal began to have breathing difficulties, and so experts decided to humanely euthanise the creature.

Firefighters and members of a search and rescue team pull up a net as they rescue a Beluga whale which strayed into France's Seine river, near the Notre-Dame-de-la-Garenne lock in Saint-Pierre-la-Garenne, France, August 10, 2022. (Reuters)

French authorities say a beluga whale stranded for several days in the Seine River has died after it was successfully removed from the French waterway. The whale was being prepared for transfer to a saltwater pool in Normandy.

Veterinarian Ollivet Courtois said that during the rescue operation, the dangerously thin white mammal began to have breathing difficulties, and so experts decided to humanely euthanise 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 dangerously thin Arctic marine mammal was spotted in France last week. A conservation group said veterinary exams after the beluga was removed from the river showed it has no digestive activity for unknown reasons.

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Photos posted by Sea Shepherd France show the white beluga lying on a big net. The plan was to move it in a refrigerated truck to the Normandy coast where it can recover for a few more days before being towed out to sea.

The dangerously thin marine mammal has no digestive activity for unknown reasons, conservation group Sea Shepherd France tweeted, saying veterinary exams were done after the beluga was hauled out of water after hours of preparation.

The group said the beluga was a male with no infectious diseases and that veterinarians would try to re-stimulate the marine mammal’s digestion. Conservationists have tried unsuccessfully since Friday to feed fish to the beluga.

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A veterinary team was planning to transport the 4-meter-long (13-foot-long) whale to a coastal spot in the northeastern French port town of Ouistreham for “a period of care,” according to Lamya Essemlali, president of Sea Shepherd France.

The delicate transport was to be made via a refrigerated truck for the approximately 160-kilometer (99-mile) trip.Authorities were planning to keep the whale in its temporary saltwater home for two to three days of surveillance and treatment before being towed out to sea.

The lost beluga was first seen in France’s river, far from its Arctic habitat, last week. It weighs about 800 kilograms (1,764 pounds).

First published on: 10-08-2022 at 03:44:49 pm
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