World News

French rescuers euthanize Begula whale stuck in river

By Clyde Hughes   |   Aug. 10, 2022 at 11:44 AM
Image of rescuers lifting a Beluga whale from the Seine River into a truck in Saint Pierre la Garenne, Normandy Region, France, on Wednesday. The whale was euthanized by rescuers. Photo by Eure Department Prefecture/EPA-EFE

Aug. 10 (UPI) -- An 1,800-pound Begula whale that got stuck in France's Seine River for more than a week earlier this month has died while being moved back out to sea, officials said Tuesday.

The 13-foot whale, which was 800 pounds underweight, was euthanized while on its way to a saltwater pool in Normandy. It had been stuck in a freshwater lock at Saint-Pierre-La-Garenne, about 45 miles northwest of Paris on Aug. 2.

The conservation group Sea Shepherd France said the whale refused to eat and its health quickly deteriorated.

Divers, veterinarians and rescue workers tried to save the mammal in a complex operation, building a net around the whale, then lifting it out of the water with the help of a tractor and crane, in a 6-hour effort.

The whale struggled to breathe during the rescue effort, leading authorities to decide to euthanize it.

"During the trip, the veterinarians noted a deterioration in its condition, particularly in its respiratory activity, and we were able to see that the animal was in pain, not breathing enough," veterinarian Florence Ollivet-Courtois, said, according to USA Today. "The suffering was obvious for the animal, so it was important to release its tension."