France mobilises rescue efforts to save underweight Beluga whale

Regional authorities in France have said a Beluga whale that swam up the river Seine appears to be underweighted and they are worried about its health.

The protected species mostly found in cold arctic waters made their way up the waterway and reached a lock which is about 70 kilometers (44miles) from Paris, the French capital.

What happened to the Whale?

The white whale was first seen earlier in the week,  in the river that flows through Paris to the English Channel, and follows the rare appearance of a killer whale in the Seine some few months ago.

The whale which is currently between the Poses and Saint-Pierre-la-Garenne Dam, about 70km northwest of Paris, is believed to be underweighted and has skin changes.

According to Gerard Mauger, deputy head of the French Marine Mammal Research Group, the mammal has spent very little time on the surface and appeared to have good lung capacity, but Mauger said rescuers were still struggling to guide the whale to the mouth of the river Seine.

Although officials did not specify the size of the whale, an adult Beluga can reach up to 4metres (13 feet).

What are the Authorities doing to save the Animal?

Local authorities revealed that French Rescue Services, Fire Fighters, and Biodiversity officials mobilized swiftly to keep a close eye on the “worrying” health of the mammal. Authorities in Normandy’s Eure department advised people to maintain some distance so as not to distress the animal.

Lamya Essemlali, head of the non-profit Marine Conservation Organisation Sea Shepherd, stated that the environment is not welcoming for the Beluga, since Seine is known to be very polluted and noisy, adding that the Cetaceans are extremely sensitive to noise.

Why are the Authorities Concerned?

In late May, the killer Whale _also known as “an Orca”, but technically part of the Dolphin family_ was found dead in the Seine between Le Havre and Rouen. The animal had found itself stranded in the river and was unable to make its way back to the ocean despite attempts by officials to guide it.

Essemlali said the urgency of the authorities is to feed the white whale to prevent it from suffering the same fate as the Orca.

Facts about Beluga Whale.

Belugas are extremely sociable mammals that live, hunt, and migrate together in pods, ranging from a few individuals to hundreds of whales. Their bulbous forehead also called “melon”, is flexible and capable of changing shape. This allows them to make different facial expressions.  Belugas can produce a series of chirps clicks, whistles, and squeals, which give them their other name: “the Canary of the sea”. They may sound like music or even nonsense to humans but to fellow belugas, they convey important information.

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