The Lonely Visitor
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France has become captivated by the plight of a solo beluga whale stranded in the Seine near Paris and which is refusing to eat, the Associated Press reported.
First appearing last week, the lost whale was seen “gently meandering” in a stretch of the river between Paris and the northern city of Rouen, dozens of miles from the sea.
Since then, veterinarians have given the whale vitamins and products to stimulate its appetite, while trying unsuccessfully to entice it with herring and trout.
Marine conservation groups and vets fear that if the dangerously thin whale continues to refuse food, it will die. They are also concerned because the whale, native to the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions, could be harmed by the warm, stagnant water between lock gates on the Seine.
On Wednesday, French rescuers and environmentalists lifted the whale from the river using a net and crane in the first stage of an ambitious rescue operation. Veterinarians attending the animal said that its condition was “satisfactory,” Agence France-Presse noted.
They added that the beluga will be moved to a saltwater lock, where they will monitor the marine creature for three days before releasing it.
Marine conservation group, Sea Shepherd France, cautioned that the “exceptional” operation is risky and stressful for the animal, which is 13 feet long and weighs nearly 1,800 pounds.
Conservationists are hoping to treat the whale and spare it the fate of an orca that strayed into the Seine and died in May.