An orca, seen for the first time in the Seine in mid-May, is in very great difficulty halfway between Le Havre and Rouen, worries the Cotentin Cetacean Study Group (GECC), which indicates that the report of killer whales in the English Channel is “very exceptional”.
“The vital prognosis is engaged. We are really, really worried. His state of health is very poor,” explained Gérard Mauger, vice-president of the GECC, an association based in Cherbourg commissioned by the French Office for Biodiversity (OFB) for the study and preservation of marine mammals in the Channel.
Can’t point it out to sea
“The longer she stays in fresh water, the more it will accelerate the deterioration of her state of health. It is very far from the sea. It is really complicated to find solutions to try to encourage it to return to the path of salt water, ”added this retired high school principal, founder of the GECC in 1997.
The length of the animal “very thin” but probably weighing more than a ton is “complicated to estimate” but “we are in the 4/5 meters” specified Gérard Mauger, “from the shape of its fin it is a male, even if the fin is completely down.
The killer whale “has been on quite a journey in fresh water. There it stagnates a little bit but the trend is that it goes up the Seine inland, ”he added.
Seen for the first time on May 16 between Honfleur and Le Havre, near the Pont de Normandie, it “very probably arrived already weakened towards the Seine estuary”, he continues.
Isolated, weak and starving for food
“Her state of health makes it more comfortable for her to be in a river because it’s less rough. She spends less energy”, but “it is more complicated to feed herself: there is less prey than at sea. -he indicates.
Helping the animal is complicated because approaching it risks stressing it and “an animal in poor health will be much more sensitive to stress”, explains Gérard Mauger.
The GECC recalls that the killer whale is a protected species. “It is prohibited by law to intentionally disturb it”, underlines Gérard Mauger. It can be dangerous to approach it because it can transmit possible viruses or cause an accident while moving.
A prefectural decree is being prepared to protect both the animal and the population.