But despite a massive operation involving 80 people – divers, scientists, police and firefighters – the local province declared Early Wednesday morning, the beluga was pronounced dead.
After realizing he was too weak to survive, officials decided to euthanize the victim. It’s unclear how the whale, which weighs more than 1,700 pounds, got so far from the Arctic waters that make up its natural habitat.
Veterinarians were waiting on the ground to examine the mammal, which had been trapped for days in northwest France and captivated visitors. Crowds thronged the banks of the Normandy River to witness the action.
On a beach near the English Channel, a command center kept watch as rescuers planned to treat the whale before releasing it back into the water.
But far from the cold waters of his protected species, the cetacean’s health worsened in the truck.
“During the journey, the vets noticed a deterioration in his health, particularly his respiratory functions,” said veterinarian Florence Olivet-Courtois. He said the beluga spent days in an unsuitable environment, citing the river’s temperature, pollution and boats.
“This operation was initiated because it was the last chance. If we had left him, he would have suffered a certain death,” he told a news conference. “So we tried to save him. Unfortunately, we were not successful.
Members of the Marine Corps The team and rescuers tried to help the whales return to the river in the English Channel earlier this week to feed them. They feared the weakened animal would starve in the waterway.
Shortly after, the crane lifted it from Sean, the non-profit Sea Shepherd France said The beluga does not have infectious diseases, but for unclear reasons cannot digest food.
Sea Shepherd thanked local authorities for attempting the tactical move.
“It is with heavy hearts that we announce that the beluga did not survive the relocation, which was risky but necessary to give the condemned animal a chance,” it said.
Sightings of belugas in rivers are rare, but in 2018, A A whale nicknamed Penny It prompted a similar rescue operation in Britain’s River Thames.
Other Arctic animals have also been spotted in Europe in recent years. According to the Natural History MuseumIncluding a walrus nicknamed Wally.
“While it is too early to say whether the increase in Arctic wildlife in Europe’s waters is part of a growing trend, the increase Melting ice“Prey movement and stormy weather are all linked to changes in the distribution of these animals,” the museum said.
Rick Nock contributed to this report.