Members of the NGO Sea Shepherd are looking for a beluga whale spotted going up the Seine, near a lock, in Courcelles-sur-Seine (Eure), August 5, 2022. JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER / AFP The tragic death of an orca in the Seine had already aroused emotion in May. It is now another cetacean that focuses the attention of Sea Shepherd France, an NGO for the defense and protection of the oceans. Spotted in the Seine, Tuesday August 2, a beluga was located Thursday near a lock, about 70 kilometers from Paris, “around Vernon”, announced the prefecture of Eure. It was again observed, Friday in the middle of the day, between the two locks of Poses and Saint-Pierre-la-Garenne, in Normandy. In what state of health is the beluga? “The animal is extremely thin,” notes Sea Shepherd, who was able to take a picture of it on Friday. Beluga in the Seine: we are with him currently, the animal is extremely thin. The absolute emergency is… https://t.co/eHfRvh3W5w— SeaShepherdFran (@Sea Shepherd France) “We are worried because if it turns out that it is not feeding, it will quickly become exhausted and can die of starvation”, a state of weakness caused by the fact that he has stopped eating, confides to Le Monde Lamya Essemlali, president of the NGO, who arrived in Normandy on Thursday evening with her teams to bring relief to the cetacean. “Even trying to approach him very carefully, it’s difficult. He makes a lot of changes of direction”, specified Gérard Mauger, of the GECC On Thursday, the Eure prefecture announced that the state of health of the animal was “worrying”, the latter seeming to present “cutaneous alterations and to be emaciated”. However, Gérard Mauger, vice-president of the Cotentin Cetacean Study Group (GECC), described his state of health as a “well-toned animal, which spends very little time on the surface and performs long apneas “. Sign that his lung capacity “remains good”. On Friday, the animal turned out to be “very elusive” and adopted “the same behavior” as the day before, said the association manager. “Even trying to approach him very carefully, it’s difficult. He makes a lot of changes of direction”, so much so that “we wonder” about what to do with this animal, he added. The GECC scientists managed to get within 50 meters of the animal. “We made acoustic recordings, with our engines cut, but he did not make sound emissions,” regretted Mr. Mauger. What is the rescue operation in place? The Eure prefecture, which oversees operations on site, can count on the presence of firefighters, the French Office for Biodiversity (OFB), the National Society for Sea Rescue (SNSM) and the French branch of Sea Shepherd. For the latter, the urgency “is to set up a feeding operation, to make him eat and hydrate him. We will try to get fish to prevent it from weakening and being able to leave. We have two former whale keepers with us, but it’s unclear how the beluga will react. Feeding a cetacean in captivity is one thing, it’s another with a wild animal”, points out Lamya Essemlali, evoking an operation “particularly sensitive and heavy in logistics”. To do this, the members of the NGO have at least two boats and two drones, “in order to dig a sound barrier to prevent it from sinking further into the land. We don’t want to see it go back to Paris or Mantes-la-Jolie! “. The NGO is carrying out this operation in conjunction with the services of the Eure prefecture. The cetacean did not respond to “attempts to guide”, according to the prefecture, which specifies that “the services engaged will now be the least intrusive possible” in order to avoid stressing it. “The cases of belugas coming up rivers have occurred in previous decades and it is possible that the animal will find its way back on its own. It seems at this stage that it is this “laissez-faire” which presents the best chances of success and survival, “she added, while ensuring that “increased surveillance” of the animal will continue. . Why did he get there and how to react in his presence? “We do not know how long he has been in the Seine. A DNA analysis will therefore be necessary to know if it comes from Norway or the St. Lawrence River, in Quebec, for example, but its presence here remains quite bizarre, recognizes Lamya Essemlali. A wind farm is currently under construction in Courseulles-sur-Mer [Calvados], facing the mouth of Le Havre. This is a simple hypothesis, but we know that cetaceans are particularly sensitive to noise, with their internal ears and their sonar. Maritime traffic is intensifying and that does not help. “According to Léa David, researcher at the EcoOcéan Institute and specialist in cetaceans, if this presence in the Seine remains “abnormal”, it is nevertheless due to “a single individual”. This one can be “just sick, disoriented following a noise or trauma or simply adventurous. There are in all species of animals cases of sedentary individuals and others more vagabond. As for the question of water, the expert recalls that belugas “are used to going up the St. Lawrence River in Quebec, and are therefore used to the mixture of fresh and salt water”. “To all those who care about the fate of the beluga: keeping your distance is essential”, asks Sea Shepherd For the moment, the authorities have called for caution and are asking “the entire population not to not attempt to approach or come into contact with the animal, to facilitate the work of all the State services, mobilized for the preservation of wildlife”. A call relayed by the NGO for the defense of the ocean: “To all those who care about the fate of the beluga: keeping your distance is essential. Help us to help it by respecting these instructions, the interest of the animal prevails over curiosity. Thanks for him. “Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers In the collections of the National Museum of Natural History, the second life of the orca of the Seine “One thing is certain, we will try everything to avoid waiting, as was the case with the orca! “recalls Ms. Essemlali. The NGO Sea Shepherd remains concerned about the future of this beluga and fears that the “tragic end” of Sedna will be repeated. This young killer whale, starving and in a state of great distress between Rouen and Le Havre, was found dead in the Seine on May 30. According to the examinations of the necropsy report, the animal would have died “of starvation”, announced the prefect of Normandy and Seine-Maritime, on June 6. Ammunition was also found at the base of the whale’s skull, although it was not directly responsible for its death. According to the Pelagis observatory, which specializes in marine mammals and birds, this is the second beluga sighted in France – a fisherman from the Loire estuary had brought one up in his nets in 1948. Lucas Rojouan
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