Animal seen in Seine river in north west France is a beluga whale

Authorities are currently evaluating the whale’s condition and ask the public not to approach it to avoid causing it stress

A photo of a beluga whale popping up from under some dark water
Beluga whales can be identified by their distinctive head shape. The whale in the Seine is currently being evaluated for health
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An animal that has been seen in the Seine river in recent days is a beluga whale, authorities have said, with an evaluation of the mammal’s health now underway.

The Eure prefecture (Normandy) said that it had based the conclusion on photographs of the animal in the river, which were taken on August 2. The animal is currently swimming in the Seine.

In a statement, the prefecture said: "It is a protected species of cetacean that usually lives in Arctic and sub-Arctic waters and in the St. Lawrence estuary in Quebec. Isolated individuals sometimes roam in more southerly waters. It can survive temporarily in fresh water.”

Experts are now working to evaluate the whale’s state of health. They have asked the public not to approach the animal in order not to endanger it or put it under stress.

It comes after an orca whale was seen swimming for several days in the Seine between Le Havre and Rouen in May, and eventually died.

Authorities there attempted to guide the whale back to sea using sound, but the animal was unresponsive and it was found to be sick and weak.

Read more: Efforts underway to guide Orca whale in Seine river to sea using sound

Read more: Update: sick orca whale trapped in the Seine found dead

The whale’s skeleton was then cleaned and inventoried, and became part of the collection at the Le Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle in Paris.

Just one month later, in July, another whale (a suspected Minke whale), was seen in the river. This whale appeared to be in better health and eventually returned to the sea.

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