France to put down sick killer whale stranded in River Seine
A group of experts worked this weekend with sonar techniques to help the animal back into its natural salt water habitat, after its appearance in the iconic French river that flows through Paris astonished onlookers.
The killer whale, also known as an orca, has been sighted between the northern port city of Le Havre in Normandy and the city of Rouen further inland after first being spotted on May 16.
“The working group of experts unanimously concluded that the only feasible solution is to euthanize the animal,” the regional authority said in a statement.
The operation seeking to save the animal “showed a lack of alertness, inconsistent reactions to sound stimuli and erratic and disoriented behavior.”
“The sound recordings also revealed vocal calls similar to cries of distress,” it said, adding that the animal appeared to be in a “critical state of health”.
The animal appears to be suffering from mucormycosis, a fungal infection increasingly seen among marine mammals and which causes them severe distress, the regional authority said.
Preparations were being made to euthanize the marine mammal but the authorities would give no details about how or where it would be carried out to save it further distress or endanger the public.
Killer whales, which despite their name belong to the dolphin family, are occasionally spotted in the English Channel but such sightings are considered rare, let alone in a river.
Experts said that while being in a river helped the animal to conserve energy it also complicated its search for prey, especially for species known to hunt in packs.