The rescue operation for an orca lost in the Seine has failed. The animal is hardly lively, behaves erratically and disoriented, said the responsible prefecture of Seine-Maritime based in Rouen on Sunday evening. The sick orca is now to be euthanized.

As the prefecture announced, tumors and rashes can be seen on aerial photographs of the animal. The orca is suffering from an advanced fungal infestation that can cause great suffering to the animal. In addition, other weakened mammals could become infected. The orca’s disease could also affect the brain. This could explain his disorientation.

On Saturday, a team made up of scientists, the police and the fire brigade, among others, set out to try to guide the stray orca towards the sea with the help of whale noises. The experimental rescue attempt also used a drone that took pictures of the infected animal.

According to the Marine Mammal Research Group (GEEC), the whale was first sighted in early April by the crew of a trawler about 30 kilometers off the Normandy coast. The video recordings are clear. There is no doubt that it is an orca. Since then it has been repeatedly spotted along the coast, in the Seine estuary and around 60 kilometers upstream in the Seine near Yainville.

Orcas are more commonly found off the coasts of Scotland, Iceland and Norway, and further south in the Atlantic Ocean in the Bay of Biscay, a GEEC expert explained. But instead of moving towards the sea, the orca kept swimming back and forth, the prefecture said. Even before the rescue operation, his condition was classified as extremely weak and the chances of survival as low.

Why the animal appeared in the Seine is unclear. It has been speculated that the whale first strayed into the English Channel because it is ill and can feed more easily in the calmer waters there.

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