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Stranded whale lifted rescued from French river to be moved to saltwater basin

A whale that was stranded for several days in the Seine has been removed from the French river in preparation for a transfer to a saltwater basin in Normandy in a bid to save its life.

The dangerously thin beluga whale has no digestive activity for unknown reasons, conservation group Sea Shepherd France tweeted, saying veterinary exams were done after it was hauled out of water following hours of preparation.

The group said the beluga is a male with no infectious diseases and vets would try to restimulate its digestion. Conservationists have tried unsuccessfully since Friday to feed it fish.

Photos posted by Sea Shepherd France show the white mammal lying on a big net that was used to get it out of a river lock.

A veterinary team is planning to transport the 13ft whale to a coastal spot in the north-eastern French port town of Ouistreham for “a period of care”, according to Lamya Essemlali, president of Sea Shepherd France.

The delicate transport was to be made by a refrigerated truck for the 100-mile trip.

Authorities plan to keep the whale in its temporary saltwater home for two to three days of surveillance and treatment before towing it out to sea.

The lost beluga was first seen in the French river, far from its Arctic habitat, last week. It weighs about 1,700lb.

Authorities said that while the move carries its own mortality risk because of the stress on the animal, the whale could not have survived much longer in the Seine’s freshwater habitat.

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They remain hopeful it will survive after it responded to a cocktail of antibiotics and vitamins administered in the last few days and rubbed itself on the lock’s wall to remove patches that had appeared on its back.— PA