French authorities will provide vitamins to a hungry beluga whale stranded in the Seine near Paris after refusing food.
The whale was first spotted on Tuesday sailing along the Seine, miles from the cooler Arctic waters it is accustomed to, and has now been swimming 44 miles north of Paris.
Environmental experts are refusing to provide any food, fearing they are in a “race against time” to save the beluga.
“It’s really thin,” said Lamya Essemlali, president of the French Society of Sea Shepherds, an ocean conservation group. “It has protruding bones. I don’t know if it’s too late.”
Rescuers had tried to feed the beluga frozen herring and live trout, but it also refused.
“It was very emaciated and seemed to have a hard time eating,” Isabelle Dorliat-Pouzet, a senior Normandy Eure police officer who oversaw the rescue operation, told a news conference.
She said they hoped giving the beluga a vitamin would help stimulate its appetite.
Ms Dorliat-Pouzet added that the whales had small spots on their whites, but it was unclear if this was the result of fresh water or a sign of a health problem.
Authorities are still deciding on the best course of action for the beluga to return to the sea.
They weren’t sure whether to wait for the animal to regain its appetite in the waterway before directing it back to more familiar territory.
Gerard Mauger of the GECC Ocean Dialogue Society said on Friday that despite being a particularly sociable mammal, “it was behaving as it was yesterday and looked nervous. It was only briefly Surface and then a long dive.”
It also made few calls and whale calls, according to sonar recordings, raising further concerns about the animal’s health.
Rescuers have been monitoring the beluga with two drones after it was spotted in the Saint-Pierre Lagarena River.
Belugas typically live in the Arctic and sub-Arctic oceans, although they sometimes wander further south into waters and river mouths, and can temporarily survive in fresh water.
It’s unclear why the animal moved away from its natural habitat in the frigid Arctic waters, passing the port of Rouen and driving dozens of miles along the busy waterway towards the French capital.
The public is urged to stay away from the animal.