top cx logo
cx logo
Explorearrow down
search icon

€10,000 reward for help in finding person who shot Seine orca

Charity Sea Shepherd France hopes to end 'the silence and impunity’ within the fishing community with regard to attacks on protected species

The bullet was found in the whale’s head during extensive analysis of its body and skeleton Pic: Sea Shepherd France

Charitable organisation Sea Shepherd France has offered a €10,000 reward to anyone who can help it to find the person who shot the orca which eventually died in the Seine in May. 

This comes after Sea Shepherd has filed a ‘complaint against X for the attempted destruction of a protected species’ following results from an autopsy on the body which revealed the presence of a bullet within the animal’s head. 

The whale, which was 4-5 metres long and weighed more than a tonne, became stuck between Rouen and Le Havre despite attempts to guide it towards the sea using sound waves.

Analysis of images of the animal shows that it was suffering from the skin disease mucormycosis, which appeared to be at "a very advanced stage, to the point where it is causing significant suffering to the animal", with "deep ulcerations…and necrotic lesions".

The whale remained in the river for two weeks, growing continually sicker and weaker, and a decision was made to euthanise it before it was found dead soon after. 

Read more: Sick orca whale trapped in the Seine found dead

Analysis on the creature’s body revealed that it had a bullet lodged in its head, but scientists have said that its death is unlikely to be connected to this injury as the projectile appeared to have entered the head at slow speed, perhaps due to water.

Read more: French NGO files complaint after bullet found in dead Seine orca

Sea Shepherd hopes to encourage witnesses from the fishing community to come forward with the promise of a reward for information on the person who shot the whale, a tactic that has proved successful in the past. 

The reward is also a way of breaking an “atmosphere of impunity and omertà [silence around criminal activity],” Layla Essemlali, president of Sea Shepherd France, told The Connexion.

Gunshot wounds common in protected species 

“The shot happened several weeks or months before [the orca’s death]. It happened out at sea and it was most likely fired by a fisherman,” said Ms Essemlali. 

Ms Essemlali said gunshot wounds on protected species are common and the consequence of the increasing scarcity of natural fishing grounds, which has forced these animals to venture in highly fished seas and encounter more boats. 

Fishermen attack the species because they see them as direct competition, said Ms Essemlali, who laments that the population is not widely aware of this phenomenon. 

Sea Shepherd France has also denounced the attacks on orcas in the Crozet islands, an archipelago of small French-owned islands in Antarctica, and along the Strait of Gibraltar.

It is not the first time Sea Shepherd France has offered a €10,000 reward in order to find the perpetrators of crimes against protected species. 

Three people were sentenced after they were found to have decapitated seals in 2019, the police having said the reward was “decisive in identifying the culprits”.

People mutilating protected species can be jailed from up to three years and fined €150,000.

Ms Essemlali said she is awaiting the results of DNA tests on the orca, hoping they will help to trace the whale’s origin and focus her organisation’s research.

“We do not know where the shot came from, who fired the shot, with what type of gun and with what intention,” said Gerard Mauger, vice-president of the Groupe d'étude des cétacés du Cotentin, which participated actively in the attempted rescue operation on the orca.

Mr Mauger said the bullet could be an indirect cause of death. 

Sea Shepherd France has called for the introduction of surveillance cameras on fishing boats. 

The Comité national des pêches maritimes et des élevages marins, one of France's fishing unions, did not respond to our request for comment.

Related articles

Another (suspected) whale spotted in Seine river in northern France

Skeleton of orca that died in the Seine to enter Paris museum

Resident or second-home owner in France?
Benefit from our daily digest of headlines and how-to's to help you make the most of life in France
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
featured helpguide
Visa and residency cards for France*
Featured Help Guide
- Visas and residency cards (cartes de séjour) for France help guide - Understand when visas and residency cards are required to move to France or come for an extended stay - Applies to Britons (post-Brexit) and to all other non-EU/non-EEA/Swiss nationalities - Useful to anyone considering a move to France, whether for work or otherwise, or wanting to spend more than three months at their French second home
Get news, views and information from France