French officials desperately trying to rescue a beluga whale trapped in the River Seine have come up with a new strategy, a vitamin cocktail.
According to reports rescuers hope it will help the lost whale regain its appetite and the energy needed to return to sea.
The visibly malnourished mammal was first spotted in the river on Tuesday, around 70km north of Paris.
After failed attempts to encourage it to swim out, the animal remains stuck and scientists worry for its health.
So far rescuers have offered up frozen herring and live trout for the four-metre whale to eat, but a local official in Eure, Isabelle Dorliat-Pouzet, said the animal did not appear to have accepted either.
“It’s quite emaciated and seems to be having trouble eating,” she was heard saying on Saturday.
Authorities hope that injecting the stranded animal with vitamins will stimulate its appetite and help it to make the long 160km return journey back up the river and out to the English Channel, where it can swim back to its Arctic habitat.
Another option being considered is to remove the whale from the river entirely, but this would require the mammal having enough strength to survive an even riskier journey.
Officials said on Saturday that small spots had appeared on the whale’s skin, but it was not clear yet whether this was a reaction to the fresh water of the River Seine or a sign of the animal’s deteriorating health.
Scientific observers said the whale was behaving skittishly, rising to the surface only briefly, and emitting fewer of the songs expected of a whale raising further concerns over its wellbeing.
Experts are puzzled how the whale managed to stray so far from its natural habitat, the cold waters of the Arctic and sub-Arctic.
Belugas occasionally venture south in the autumn to feed as ice forms, but it is rare for them to travel so far from their native home.
French authorities race to rescue a beluga whale that swam dozens of kilometers inland up the Seine river. pic.twitter.com/hU24ZVAURn
— CBS News (@CBSNews) August 6, 2022