France: lost beluga died during transport

France: Lost beluga died during transport


The beluga, lost in an alarming state of health for more than a week in a river in northwestern France, died while being transported to a lock where it was to be treated, have local authorities announced on Wednesday. 

“Despite an unprecedented beluga rescue operation, we are sad to announce the death of the cetacean,” the Calvados prefecture announced on Twitter , stating that he was euthanized.

He died on the road before arriving in the town of Ouistreham, where he was to be examined by veterinarians before a possible transfer, the prefecture said in a press release. He then had to, if his condition allowed him, stay several days in a lock before being released into the open sea.

But “despite the technical and logistical means implemented, the condition of the cetacean unfortunately degraded during the trip,” added the prefecture. “Veterinary expertise revealed the situation of great weakness and failing respiratory activity of the beluga. The decision was therefore taken collectively, with the veterinarians, to euthanize him”.

On Twitter, the veterinarian of the rescue service intervened, Florence Ollivet-Courtois, explained that “during the trip, the veterinarians noted a deterioration (…) (of the) respiratory activities” of the cetacean, four meters in height. long and about 800 kilos.

“We could see that the animal was in anoxia (a decrease in the quantity of oxygen, editor’s note), therefore insufficiently ventilated, and so the suffering was obvious for this animal”, she continued.

“We decided that it was not relevant to release it and therefore that it was necessary to proceed with its euthanasia” , she added.

The NGO Sea Shepherd has also confirmed the death of the cetacean.

“It is with heavy hearts that we announce that the beluga did not survive the translocation which was risky , but essential to give an otherwise doomed animal a chance. Following the deterioration of his condition, the veterinarians took the decision to euthanize him”, can we read on the same social network.

The presence of the cetacean, spotted more than a week ago in the Seine, about 130 kilometers from the mouth of the river in the Channel, when it usually evolves in cold waters, had caused a great stir, at the even beyond the French borders, with an influx of donations from foundations, associations and individuals to try to save it.

In May, it was an orca who found herself in difficulty in the Seine. The operations to try to save the cetacean had failed and the animal finally died of starvation.

According to the Pelagis observatory, a specialist in marine mammals, the beluga “has a arctic and subarctic distribution. Although the best-known population is found in the St. Lawrence estuary (Quebec), the closest to our shores is found in Svalbard, an archipelago located in northern Norway, 3,000 kilometers from the Seine.

According to the same source, this is the second beluga known in France after a fisherman from the Loire estuary, the great river in the center of the country, brought one up in his nets in 1948.