top cx logo
cx logo
Explorearrow down
search icon
arrow down

Hopes that at-risk whale in French seas will reach marine park today

Scientists have been tracking the lost 18-month-old whale along the south of France coastline for days. Grey whales are usually found off the Pacific coast

Firefighters helped move the whale away from the coast. Hopes that at-risk whale in French seas will reach marine park today

Firefighters helped guide the whale away from the coast and into open seas yesterday Pic: Sapeurs-Pompiers de l'Hérault - SDIS 34 / Facebook

Scientists are hopeful that a young grey whale lost off the south coast of France is starting to find its way home, as it has recently been spotted off the Hérault coastline.

The animal has been tracked since it appeared in seas in the south of France last week. Prior to the most recent sighting, it was last seen on April 30, near Bormes-les-Mimosas (Var). 

After this it disappeared for a few days.  

It was seen again yesterday (May 5) near Palavas-les-Flots in Hérault, where firefighters intervened to encourage the animal towards open seas.

The most recent sighting indicates that the whale may have begun a long journey home, which would entail travelling west along the south French coast, then following the Spanish coast south before entering the Atlantic via Gibraltar, from where it could return to its normal habitat off the Pacific coast.

However, the animal is in poor health. When it was seen yesterday scientists reported it was injured and had lost a lot of weight as it cannot feed properly in the unfamiliar Mediterranean environment. 

Still, they are hopeful the whale will continue its journey along the French coast, arriving today in the natural marine park which starts along the Aude coastline and extends down into northern Spain. 

Director of the park Hervé Magnin said: “The whale must travel along the coast, which is normal behaviour for grey whales. Our team is mobilised and will be in the water to accompany it by securing a perimeter to stop it being approached out of curiosity!”

Mr Magnin said scientists had taken a sample of fat from the animal as part of wider efforts to track aquatic mammals in the Mediterranean. 

He said the whale, nicknamed Wally, had been swimming west at a speed of two knots, and could reach Spanish waters by Friday.

As for the animal’s health, he said: “If it continues this journey, and has the strength, it could reach Gibraltar - but its survival is not guaranteed. When the fat sample was taken, it was still breathing regularly and was making progress.” 

Related stories

Help scientists look for at-risk whale off France's south coast

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
Healthcare in France*
Featured Help Guide
- Understand the French healthcare system, how you access it and how you are reimbursed - Useful if you are new to the French healthcare system or want a more in-depth understanding - Reader question and answer section Aimed at non-French nationals living here, the guide gives an overview of what you are (and are not) covered for. There is also information for second-home owners and regular visitors.
Get news, views and information from France
You have 2 free subscriber articles left
Subscribe now to read unlimited articles and exclusive content
Already a subscriber? Log in now