The planet holds its breath. The extraction of the beluga lost for a week in the Seine began on the night of Tuesday to Wednesday, according to the prefecture of Eure, which is piloting this “extremely prepared” operation to try to save the cetacean. “We will have done the maximum and the best possible”, estimated in front of the journalists the general secretary of the prefecture of Eure, Isabelle Dorliat-Pouzet.
This operation, launched shortly before 10 p.m. with the entry into action of around twenty divers and the mobilization of a total of 80 people, is not “winned in advance”.
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On a photo of the NGO Sea Shepherd France, present on the spot, we saw a net deployed in the river, divers on the left, and the animal on the right. The cetacean, held since Friday in a lock on the Seine in Saint-Pierre-la-Garenne, about 70 km from Paris, will be placed in “a kind of hammock” then in a refrigerated truck which will transport it out of water , “on straw or another element of comfort”, bound for the coast.
Three days of observation planned
A basin of seawater, in a lock in the port of Ouistreham (Calvados), was made available to receive the animal, which will remain there for three days, “the time that we organize its repatriation in the open sea and that ‘we observe his state of health,’ according to the sub-prefect. On Tuesday, the beluga was still feeding “very little” and its state of health was “stationary”.
“Today is a great day for this beluga whale and for everyone involved in her rescue,” Sea Shepherd said. “He will be taken out of the water and transported to a salt water basin where he will be placed under surveillance and will receive treatment, hoping that his illness will be curable. He will then be released at sea, with hopefully the best chance of survival,” added Sea Shepherd. The NGO spoke of “an obstacle course” to manage a situation “still very unprecedented in France and for which no one is prepared”.
Risk of stress
A member of the Marineland team in Antibes (Alpes-Maritimes), who arrived Monday evening at the largest marine zoo in Europe, estimated with AFP that the operation was “out of the ordinary”, in particular in reason for the site.
The banks of the Seine “are not accessible to vehicles” at this location and “everything must be transported by hand”, explained Isabelle Brasseur. For the specialist, “the priority is to put it back in seawater”.
This delicate operation could induce stress in this cetacean, “which is a factor of death or discomfort for the animal” including for those in “very good shape”, she underlined. Once transported by refrigerated truck to Ouistreham, the animal should be deposited there for three days in a seawater lock, the time to receive care.
He should then be taken to the high seas to be released there “far enough from the coast” and “let nature take back” its rights”, estimated Isabelle Dorliat-Pouzet. The emotion aroused by the animal’s fate led to a wave of donations, minimizing the cost of this rescue attempt.