Lost Arctic Inhabitant: Whale in the Seine awaits rescue

The beluga was first spotted two days ago and has been making headlines in France and internationally ever since. A whale in the Seine seems hard to believe, according to the largest French television station TF1. And yet one of them actually swims up the river not too far from Paris. Normally, the broadcaster noted, beluga whales are better off in Norway and Canada than in France.

One thing is for sure: the beluga must have swum across its mouth on the Atlantic coast into the Seine and then further upstream. He is currently near Vernon in Normandy, about 70 kilometers north-west of the French capital, it said on Friday. According to TF1, he must have already covered 160 kilometers in the river. “Le Parisien” reported that the marine mammal swam about 30 kilometers within 24 hours. According to the newspaper, he is moving towards a dam.

“Lost in the Seine”

The fact that the animal is swimming in the warm water of the French river and is alone is cause enough for concern, according to TF1 in an article entitled: “A beluga lost in the Seine.” The department is working to ensure that this is not the case Yours in Normandy on a rescue plan.

Reuters/Pascal Rossignol

Big question: How to pilot back to the open sea?

The unusual visitor – or the unusual visitor – should of course attract numerous onlookers. However, they were asked to keep their distance, the BBC said. Stress for the animal, which appears to be malnourished, should be avoided. Why it has moved so far away from its natural habitat is a mystery – but it is not an isolated case. The beluga is not the first whale in the Seine.

A challenge

The challenge now is “how can we help feed him and try to accompany him back towards the ocean,” quoted the British broadcaster on Friday Lamya Essemlali, Chair of the marine conservation organization Sea Shepherd France. Lifting the whale out of the water and bringing it back to the sea is out of the question. That’s too risky.

Beluga whale sighted in Seine

A beluga whale, normally resident in arctic waters, has been sighted in the Seine River in France. The authorities said it was now being investigated how to ensure his survival.

In any case, not much was known about the animal until Friday, such as its size and its assumed state of health, if it can be reasonably estimated from a distance. According to various sources, belugas or white whales can grow up to six meters in length and weigh up to one ton. They live in arctic or subarctic waters, typically in groups, but occasionally swim further south in search of food.

Orca died in the Seine

In May, a rescue operation for an orca or killer whale (“killer whale”) in France, which had also got lost in the Seine, failed. Originally, the animal should have been guided out to sea with the help of noises made by conspecifics. But that didn’t work.

An orca swims in the Seine in May 2022

Reuters/Johanna Geron

In May, a killer whale died after aimlessly swimming back and forth in the Seine (pictured near Joumieges).

The orca’s health was poor, it was severely weakened and appeared severely disoriented, aerial photographs showed poor condition of its skin. Ultimately, the decision was made to euthanize the animal. The whale, which weighed several tons, died in the Seine beforehand, as the Seine-Maritime prefecture in Rouen announced at the time.

Swim 60 kilometers upstream

The orca was first sighted in early April by the crew of a trawler about 30 kilometers off the coast of Normandy, it said. After that he was seen several times at the mouth of the Seine on the English Channel, and later around 60 kilometers upstream. Orcas typically live off the coasts of Scotland, Iceland and Norway. Several whales have already stranded in Great Britain, for example in the Thames.

Suspected fin whale disappeared back into the sea

Not long after the orca’s death in France’s Seine, another large whale was sighted in the Seine, in the river’s estuary near Le Havre in Normandy, in July. Several ship crews reported an animal around ten meters tall, according to the prefecture in Rouen probably a fin whale. It is not unusual for individual animals to temporarily appear at the mouth, they also find food there. Nevertheless, security measures were taken, ships had to keep a minimum distance. The whale disappeared back into the sea.

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