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Three days after its first appearance in the Eure prefecture on Tuesday, a beluga was observed again on Friday in the middle of the day, but the animal turned out to be “very elusive”, Gérard Mauger, vice-president, told AFP. of the Cotentin Cetacean Study Group (GEEC).
The beluga spotted Tuesday, August 2 in the morning in the Seine was again observed Friday in the middle of the day. But the animal, a protected species of cetacean, turns out to be “very elusive”, Gérard Mauger, vice-president of the GEEC, told AFP. After the death of an orca in the Seine in May, experts are worried about the health of the beluga.
“He has the same behavior as yesterday, we have the feeling that he is very elusive. He makes very short appearances on the surface, followed by long apneas”, indicated Gérard Mauger. “Even trying to approach him with great care, it’s difficult. He makes a lot of changes in direction,” continued the association manager. So much so that “we wonder” about what to do with this animal, he added.
Approaching about fifty meters, “we made acoustic recordings, with our engines cut, but he did not make any sound emissions”, regretted Gérard Mauger.
The animal was still Friday afternoon between the two locks of Poses and Saint-Pierre-la-Garenne. Solicited in the morning by AFP, the prefecture of Eure, which supervises the operations, had not specified its intentions at the start of the afternoon.
On Wednesday, the prefecture judged the state of health of the animal “worrying”, “seems[ant] have cutaneous alterations and be emaciated”.
Four boats are in the area, according to Gérard Mauger: that of the SDIS (firefighters), the OFB (French Office for Biodiversity), the Sea Shepherd association and the SNSM.
“The urgency is to feed him”
In May, an orca had already found itself in difficulty in the Seine, between Rouen and Le Havre. The operations to try to save the cetacean had failed and the animal had finally died of starvation.
The necropsy (a post-mortem examination carried out on an animal) had confirmed the “poor physical condition” of the orca. It was an “immature” female over four meters and weighing 1,100 kg, and analysis also revealed a bullet lodged in the base of the mammal’s skull.
“No certainty” could be established on the link between the ammunition and the death of the orca, the experts favoring “the hypothesis according to which the animal died of inanition”.
This sad outcome, “that’s what we want to avoid with the beluga. For us, we need to do a DNA test quickly to find out its origin and carry out a repatriation. The urgency is already to feed it with dead fish , probably frozen herring, to prevent him from running out because the environment is not very welcoming for him,” Sea Shepherd president Lamya Essemlali told AFP.
According to the Pelagis observatory, a specialist in marine mammals, this is the second beluga known in France after a fisherman from the Loire estuary had brought one up in his nets in 1948.