Orca in the Seine: not to act or assist him, the thorny question of human intervention

Seen for the first time on May 16, an orca roams the Seine, between Honfleur and Le Havre. She appears to be in poor health. To intervene or not, the question arises, but opinions differ.

Should we provide assistance to the killer whale stuck in the mouth of the Seine, whose state of health is deteriorating and therefore the vital prognosis seems engaged? While an intervention poses serious risks, other cetacean specialists believe that assistance is possible.

The risk of harming him by intervening

This adult male orca going up the Seine would be in very great difficulty. “The vital prognosis is engaged. We are really very worried. His state of health is very degraded”, explains Gérard Mauger, vice-president of the GECC, an association for the observation of cetaceans in the Cotentin, to AFP quoted by our colleagues from Paris Normandy.

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Killer whale in the Seine: far from the sea, the vital prognosis of the animal is engaged

The animal, currently in the direction of Rouen, is not not made to stay in fresh water. “It will accelerate the deterioration of her state of 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”, adds- he.

Consequently, intervening is a real risk, because knowing that the killer whale is a protected species and thatan intervention, causing stress could harm himspecialists find themselves confronted with the formal prohibition of “intentionally disturbing” this animal, explains Paris-Normandie.

Bring “assistance” to the orc

If the situation therefore suggests a rather pessimistic future for the animal, another story gave some hope this Friday, May 27, on the airwaves of FranceInfo. Alexandre Gannier, doctor in marine ecology, specialist in cetaceans, was invited to the morning and according to him, assistance is possible.

According to him, the operation would not consist of a rescue, but rather to give a boost to the orca, to help him find his way back to his environment.

It would thus be “with a semi-rigid canoe, with a lot of gentleness, a lot of patience, gently suggesting to the orca the direction to take to get out of these meanders of the Seine”, suggests the specialist. In favor of this option, the NGO Sea Shepherd has also offered to lend boats to state services to try to help the orca.

In order to protect the animal in distress as much as possible, an order has been issued, prohibiting navigation “less than 100 meters from the animal”.

To act or not, the question remains in abeyance for the time being, but for Alexandre Gannier, the observation is clear: “If the orca stays in place like this for weeks, it will die.”

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