Six hours to get the beluga out of the water: the perilous operation to try to bring the cetacean weighing around 800 kg back to the sea, hitherto held in a lock in the Eure, continued on Tuesday night in Wednesday.
The 24 divers involved and the rescuers handling the ropes around the Saint-Pierre-la-Garenne lock had to try several times, between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m., to lure the animal into the nets and structure capable of lifting it out of the water, found AFP journalists.
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The cetacean, whose state of health was deemed "
", ended up being lifted in a net pulled by a crane and placed on a barge, where he was immediately taken care of by a dozen veterinarians dressed in overalls white.
For long minutes of uncertainty, the imposing cetacean found itself suspended in the air, waving its four-meter-long white body, gleaming above the heads of its rescuers, both focused and fascinated.
The beluga, an animal living in cold waters, whose presence in the Seine is exceptional, must then be placed in a refrigerated truck which will transport it out of the water, "
on straw or another element of comfort
", bound for the coastline about 160 km away, said the secretary general of the Eure prefecture, Isabelle Dorliat-Pouzet, before the start of the delicate operation.
A basin of seawater, in a lock in the port of Ouistreham (Calvados), was made available to receive the animal, which will remain there for three days, "
while we organize its repatriation in the open sea and that 'we observe his state of health
,' according to the sub-prefect.
He should then be taken to the high seas to be released there "
far enough from the coast
" and "
let nature take back its rights
", estimated Isabelle Dorliat-Pouzet.
Spotted on August 2 in the river, the cetacean has been detained since Friday in the basin of a lock, located 70 km northwest of Paris.
A killer whale had already been observed in the Seine in May, between Rouen and Le Havre.
She had finally been found dead and an autopsy had favored death by starvation.
Today is a great day for this beluga and for everyone involved in its rescue
,” said Sea Shepherd, the ocean defense NGO on its website.
The NGO spoke of “
an obstacle course to manage a situation
” still very unprecedented in France and for which “
no one is prepared
The operation to bring it back to sea, if it is “
out of the ordinary
”, is not without risk for the beluga, already weakened and sensitive to stress, recalled Isabelle Brasseur, from Marineland in Antibes.
Read alsoMany mysteries surrounding the presence of the beluga in the Seine
It could be that he dies now, during the manipulation, during the journey or at point B
" in Ouistreham, she warned.
According to the Pelagis observatory, which specializes in marine mammals, the beluga has an arctic and subarctic distribution.
It is, according to these experts, the second beluga known in France after a fisherman from the Loire estuary had brought one up in his nets in 1948.