PARIS — A beluga whale stranded for several days in the Seine River was successfully removed from the French waterway Wednesday in preparation for a transfer to a saltwater basin in Normandy in hopes of saving its life.
The dangerously thin marine mammal has no digestive activity for unknown reasons, conservation group Sea Shepherd France tweeted, saying veterinary exams were done after the beluga was hauled out of water after hours of preparation.
The group said the beluga was a male with no infectious diseases and that veterinarians would try to re-stimulate the marine mammal’s digestion. Conservationists have tried unsuccessfully since Friday to feed fish to the beluga.
Photos posted by Sea Shepherd France show the white mammal lying on a big net that was used to get it out of a river lock.
A veterinary team was planning to transport the 4-meter-long (13-foot-long) whale to a coastal spot in the northeastern French port town of Ouistreham for “a period of care,” according to Lamya Essemlali, president of Sea Shepherd France.
The delicate transport was to be made via a refrigerated truck for the approximately 160-kilometer (99-mile) trip.
Authorities were planning to keep the whale in its temporary saltwater home for two to three days of surveillance and treatment before being towed out to sea.
The lost beluga was first seen in France’s river, far from its Arctic habitat, last week. It weighs about 800 kilograms (1,764 pounds).
Authorities said that while the move carries its own mortality risk because of the stress on the animal, the whale couldn’t survive much longer in the Seine’s freshwater habitat.
They remain hopeful it will survive after it responded to a cocktail of antibiotics and vitamins administered in the last few days and rubbed itself on the lock’s wall to remove patches that had appeared on its back.