A beluga whale that strayed into the River Seine, far from its natural habitat of arctic or subarctic waters, will be relocated to a salty river basin near the sea on Tuesday, according to the marine conservation organization Sea Shepherd France.
Last week, the beluga, which appeared famished, was spotted in the Seine. While transporting the whale is risky, Sea Shepherd, which is helping with the rescue, believes it cannot stay in the warm, non-salty river water for much longer.
“Moving it to a salt water pool will allow us to monitor it better and try and treat it,” Sea Shepherd France president Lamya Essemlali said of the weakened beluga to Reuters.
Attempts to feed the beluga squid and live fish have failed, and rescuers believe the whale is unwell, however local authorities say it is improving after receiving a mixture of vitamins and medicines.
“That’s what really matters: determine if it can be cured from what it is suffering from. It’s a necessary step before releasing it into the sea,” Essemlali told Reuters.
The beluga swam nearly halfway to Paris before being trapped in a huge lock system by municipal authorities.
The whale will be moved to another navigation lock closer to the sea and with salt water on Tuesday.
The reason for the whale’s departure from its usual home was unknown.
A very ill orca swam dozens of kilometers up the Seine in late May and died of natural causes after attempts to lead it back to sea failed.
A beluga whale was observed for a few days in September 2018 at Gravesend, east of London, in what was then the most southerly sighting of a beluga on British shores.
In a tweet, Sea Shepherd France said, “Today is a big day for the beluga and all those involved in its rescue,”