five questions about the situation of the animal whose vital prognosis is engaged

For several days, a killer whale has been seen in very great difficulty in the Seine between Le Havre and Rouen. On Wednesday, May 25, 2022, Cotentin warned the Cetacean Study Group (Gecc) about his state of health and spoke of a “vital prognosis involved” NearAFP.

But how did this mammal, which normally lives in salt water, end up in the Seine? What is his life expectancy? Can the authorities intervene? We summarize the situation in five questions.

1. How long has she been in the Seine?

The killer whale, a young male about four meters tall, was first seen on May 16 between Honfleur and Le Havre, near the Pont de Normandie. According to Sébastien Jacquot, project manager at Gecc, this killer whale comes from a population, ie “on the side of Ireland”, he explained our colleagues from 20 minutes .

Usually this species lives in groups, but several hypotheses have been put forward to explain this isolation. He would have fled the group ” Out of curiosity “, or for “hunting, probably seals”, assures Sébastien Jacquot. Delphine Eloi, from Gecc, explains that an illness could have been the cause of this distance. “It would thus have come to calmer waters for easier feeding. »

2. What is his state of health?

“The vital prognosis is committed. We are really, really worried. His health is very poor.” clarified toAFP Gérard Mauger, Vice-President of the GECC, on Wednesday 25 May. According to him, the killer whale is “probably already weakened arrival at the Seine estuary”.

This “he killer whale, protected and wild species”is “very weak” confirmed the Seine-Maritime prefecture in a press release. Alexandre Gannier, a doctor in marine ecology and specialist in whales, stated this, however France info this Friday, May 27 at “the killer whale (was) not in pain”. This grown man “is weakened, he has probably lost a few kilos, but he still seems to have tone”.

3. A killer whale in a river, is it frequent?

The presence of this killer whale in the Seine is extremely rare. This animal “Obviously does not have a calling to develop separately from his group, nor in freshwater races. He may be injured or ill.” explained the prefecture Seine-Maritime calls for “avoid any assembly or crowd in its vicinity which could […] endanger this wild animal, but above all pose a risk to humans “. Deprived of the minerals from the seawater, the killer whale’s immune system in fresh water is weakened.

“She goes back and forth. It goes quite far into the country, which is quite surprising,” secures for his part Sébastien Jacquot to France info.

However, this is not the first time a killer whale has been reported in freshwater. “In October 1931, a 4-foot-tall female rode up the Columbia River in Oregon [États-Unis]over more than 100 miles and there were almost 100 days “, thus tells the Larousse encyclopedia.

4. Can it last long?

“The longer she stays in fresh water, the more it will accelerate the deterioration of her health. She is very far from the sea. It is really complicated to find solutions to try to encourage her to return to the path of salt water”. warned Gérard MaugerAFP.

“Her state of health makes it more comfortable for her to be in a river because it is less harsh. She uses less energy, but it is more complicated to feed herself: there are fewer prey than at sea, and she is all alone, while it is animals that hunt in droves. “

But if no assistance operation is performed and “If the killer whale stays in place like this for several weeks, it will die”, warns Alexandre Gannier to France info.

5. Can animal welfare authorities or organizations intervene?

According to several specialists, the competent authorities must intervene to save his life. According to Sébastien Vannier, people with experience with whales could “with a semi-rigid canoe, very gently, very patiently, gently suggesting the killer whale what direction they should take to get out of these meanders of the Seine”. This operation must be performed “in relation to the authorities of the State, the Maritime Prefecture”, he assures.

But on Wednesday, May 25, a meeting between the prefect of the Seine-Maritime and whale experts concluded that there was no need for intervention at the moment because a rescue attempt would be too risky, revealed BFM TV . The animal would be too far from shore to allow intervention with boats or ultrasound. In addition, a human action can generate stress for the animal and endanger it.

Killer whale in the Seine: five questions about the situation of the animal whose vital prognosis is engaged

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