Stranded beluga whale removed from River Seine by net and crane

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Stranded beluga whale removed from River Seine by net and crane

A beluga whale stranded in France’s River Seine for almost a week has been successfully removed from the waterway, as rescuers prepare to transfer the animal to a saltwater basin in Normandy in a desperate attempt to save its life.

The delicate operation to transfer the marine mammal took almost six hours and was completed early Wednesday. Rescuers used a net and a crane to lift the cetacean from the river.

It was then placed on a barge placed under the care of up to a dozen veterinarians. The whale, usually found in cold Arctic waters, is expected to be placed in a refrigerated truck before being transported to the northern French coast town of Ouistreham for a “period of care”.

There, authorities were planning to keep the animal in its temporary saltwater home for up to three days of surveillance and treatment before then releasing it into the sea.

The lost beluga was first seen in the Seine last week.

It weighs about 800 kilograms (1,760 pounds) but there are concerns that it has not been feeding.

Authorities said that while moving the animal carries a risk of death due to stress, the whale would not have been able to survive much longer in the Seine’s freshwater habitat.

Rescuers remain hopeful it will survive after it responded to a cocktail of antibiotics and vitamins administered in the last few days and rubbed itself on the lock’s wall to remove patches that had appeared on its back.

The group said the beluga was a male with no infectious diseases and that veterinarians would try to re-stimulate its digestion. Conservationists have tried unsuccessfully since Friday to feed fish to the beluga.