Beluga in the Seine: what we know about the imminent rescue of the cetacean which has a slim chance of survival

The animal, stranded for about a week in this lock of the Eure, must be transported for treatment this Tuesday August 8 at 8 p.m. Update on this unusual rescue.

An “out of the ordinary” operation is being prepared. The rescue of the beluga stranded in the Seine, in an estuary of the Eure, is imminent. Planned at 8 p.m. this Tuesday, August 9it will mobilize three members of a team from Marineland, the largest marine zoo in Europe, as well as major resources.

Isabelle Brasseur, one of the Marineland team members, told West France with AFP that this extraction was “out of the ordinary” in France. “What is out of the ordinary is the place”. The banks of the Seine “are not accessible to vehicles” at this location and “everything must be carried by hand“. An additional difficulty for rescuers.

Trucks to transport the animal

The Normandy region has announced that it will make available “the lock at the port of Ouistreham to allow the Beluga to receive treatment before its departure for the open sea”.

Ports of Normandy & the Normandy Region provide the lock at the port of @Ouistreham to allow the Beluga to receive care before leaving for the open sea. This operation is coordinated in conjunction with wildlife protection services and associations.

— Normandy Region (@RegionNormandie) August 9, 2022

Hours of driving await the animal after an operation that promises to be “long and very technical” according to the sub-prefect of Évreux. In all, 80 people are mobilized for this rescue: gendarmes, firefighters, scientists and association members. The beluga will be extricated from its lock with a net then installed in a truck loaned for the occasion using a crane.

slim chance of survival

However, the operation seems very difficult. The lock where the white whale is located is more than 130 km from the sea. Before being released, it will therefore have to remain in seawater locks to be examined and treated.

“In the water, cetaceans support their weight well, but on land, gravity is more difficult and it compresses their organs. He shouldn’t stay in this position too long.“, explains Gérard Mauger, vice-president of the Cotentin cetacean study group (GECC) to France 3 Normandy. A race against time begins. Especially since the animal no longer eats, despite the stimulation and the food offered to it.

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