“We are really in a race against time” to save the cetacean, says the president of Sea Shepherd

The NGO Sea Shepherd France is preparing to launch three boats to guide the cetacean to the sea, seen for the first time on May 16 between Honfleur and Le Havre, near the Pont de Normandie, and in great difficulty.

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“We are really in a race against time” to save the killer whale which is currently in the Seine between Rouen and Le Havre, said Sunday on franceinfo Lamya Essemlali, president of the NGO Sea Shepherd France as the organization prepares to launch three boats to guide the cetacean in great difficulty towards the sea. A “extremely difficult operation”a “sort of seduction operation” of this orca.

franceinfo: The prefecture of Seine-Maritime, in conjunction with cetacean specialists, says that it is better to avoid approaching the animal with boats. How are you going to handle it in this case?

Lamya Essemlali: We think that we will not be able to accompany it out to sea without approaching it. There are precautions to take, we have experience driving hundreds of dolphins. There what will have to be done is a kind of seduction operation of the orca, that is to say to see how it reacts to a boat which is interested in it. If she’s confused and she’s interested in a boat, she agrees to follow it, maybe we’ll make it. This is what must be attempted. The method that would come next if we wouldn’t succeed is scaring, but that would induce a lot of stress and that’s what we want to avoid at all costs. A boat from the GECC (Cotentin cetacean study group) emitted killer whale sounds yesterday during a test phase. We are just waiting for the green light from the prefecture to put our boats in the water and try something else.

Can an operation like this be dangerous for those involved?

There are precautions to be taken, but killer whale attacks on boats are extremely rare, it has happened in specific cases. We have no particular fear, especially since it is a weakened orca. We are more worried about the survival of the killer whale than about these security issues which are certainly important but, in my opinion, are not the greatest danger. The greatest danger is for the orca. We are really in a race against time because she has been in fresh water for far too long. She is at risk of getting infected because she already has a lot of mycosis, it is feared that she will catch sepsis. The water of the Seine is extremely polluted, it is not at all its environment, it is emaciated. It absolutely must reach the sea as quickly as possible, otherwise it is doomed.

Is it possible to capture this animal to treat it?

It would be necessary to have the opinion of the veterinarians, she is extremely weakened. That would mean keeping him in captivity. On animals that are already very weakened, captivity is often the final blow unfortunately.

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