A rescue operation is taking shape for the orca in perdition in the Seine

An orca lost in the Seine, the scene is atypical to say the least. Spotted for the first time on May 16 near the Normandy bridge, it now finds itself in great difficulty between Le Havre and Rouen. Probably ill or injured, his vital prognosis is engaged. “She is very weak and thin. His body is covered with fungus. But for the past few days, his condition has remained stable.says Sophie Poncet, marine mammal specialist for the French Office for Biodiversity (OFB).

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To help the animal and lure it out to sea, the Seine-Maritime prefecture is setting up a rescue operation, scheduled for Saturday, May 27 in the morning. “The decision was made to favor a gentle intervention method, aimed at ensuring remote monitoring of the animal by using a drone, coordinated with an intervention aimed at ensuring the dissemination of sound stimuli [sons émis par une population d’orques] », she explained in a press release. “We hope it will send him positive signals to go down the Seine”, abounds Sophie Poncet. The experiment is a first in France, but has already been successful with a group of killer whales in Norway.

Perimeter of protection

On Wednesday, measures have already been taken to monitor the orca, an otherwise protected species. A protection perimeter has been established, with a notice of navigation and a ban on approaching the animal within 100 meters for individuals. Surveillance operations are also organized in collaboration with the OFB and the Cotentin Cetacean Study Group (GECC).

No one knows if the operation will be successful. “In Norway, the experiment was carried out on a group, less far from the sea, and on animals that were apparently in better health. So it really complicates the manipulation and nothing suggests its result”, reports Sophie Poncet. Endowed with a particular intelligence, the orca in difficulty could also understand the subterfuge and not be drawn towards the sound signals.

“Prolonged contact with fresh water can cause skin problems, infections, ulcers”, Agnès Benet, doctor in marine biology

“It’s quite complex to intervene because the killer whale is a big animal and the Seine a particular space, continues Sophie Poncet. The intervention must be as gentle as possible to avoid stressing the animal. » The cetacean, probably a male, measures between 4 and 5 meters and would weigh more than a ton. The prefecture recalls that it is a ” wild animal “ to the herd instinct, which could “represent a risk to people”.

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