French authorities are to attempt to guide a four-to-five-metre long orca whale out of the Seine river and back to sea using sound.
The whale has been observed in the river between Le Havre and Rouen since the beginning of April, an environment it is not suited to living in.
A group of French and international experts have decided that it is now necessary to intervene and to try to rescue the whale, after previously holding off due to concerns about endangering the animal and people.
The experts have concluded that the whale is “extremely weak and its chances of survival are particularly low”.
“Taking into account the poor health of the animal, the decision was taken to try a soft intervention method", the préfecture of Seine-Maritime wrote in a statement published Friday evening (May 27).
Authorities and experts will try to guide the whale out of the river and back to sea by using whale sounds played from a safe distance, using a drone to monitor the orca.
Delphine Éloi of the Groupe d’Étude des Cétacés du Cotentin, an association working on the study and preservation of marine mammals in the English Channel, said that it could be a young whale that has become isolated from a group.
“This could be because it has been excluded from a group or because the whale has isolated itself due to an illness,” she told BFMTV.
FLASH - Une orque se promène depuis une semaine dans la Seine, entre Le Havre et Rouen. L'animal égaré n'est pas fait pour vivre en eau douce et semble malade.— Mediavenir (@Mediavenir) May 25, 2022
Son pronostic vital est engagé. (BFMTV) pic.twitter.com/WgaBpMcQYk
French authorities have called on people to keep their distance from the whale and not to share its location, as it could put people or the whale in danger and also affect the success of the rescue mission. For this reason, more precise details about the operation will not be shared until it is completed.
Communiqué relatif à la surveillance de l'orque affaiblie observée dans la Seine ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/nF4AQ5V6SY— Préfet de Normandie et de la Seine-Maritime (@Prefet76) May 27, 2022