Hopes of saving a malnourished beluga whale that has swum up the Seine river were receding yesterday, as rescuers said they were in a race against the clock to find a solution.
The whale was first spotted on Tuesday in the river that runs through Paris to the English Channel. Since Friday it has been between two locks some 70km north of the French capital.
But leaving it in the warm stagnant water between the lock gates is no longer an option.
“He has to be moved in the coming 24-48 hours, these conditions are not good for him,” Sea Shepherd France head Lamya Essemlali told AFP.
Specialists held out “little hope” for the visibly underweight whale as they were “in a race against the clock” to save the creature, Essemlali said. “We are all doubtful about its own ability to return to the sea,” she said. “Even if we ‘drove’ it with a boat, that would be extremely dangerous, if not impossible”.
Before swimming between the two locks, “he had the tendency to be heading toward Paris. It would be catastrophic if he reached there,” Essemlali said.
However, “the euthanasia option has been ruled out for the moment, because at this stage it would be premature”, she said.
The whale still has “energy ... turns its head, reacts to stimuli”, she said after a meeting of experts and French officials.
Although rescuers have tried feeding it frozen herring and then live trout, the animal was refusing the food.
“His lack of appetite is surely a symptom of something else... an illness. He is malnourished and this dates back weeks, if not months. He was no longer eating at sea,” Essemlali said.
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