Orca stranded in Seine River dies from infection, severe distress
As a wildlife conservation group was getting ready to euthanize the whale, it had already died from a severe skin infection.
A killer whale - one of the most endangered species of mammals in the world - was found dead on Monday after being stranded for weeks in the River Seine, France. Attempts to guide the whale back to sea had failed and revealed that the creature was severely sick, according to local authorities.
Although regional officials had already decided to euthanize the whale, a sailor on Monday spotted the animal floating on its side in the river.
Sea Shepard France, an NGO which confirmed the orca's death, announced on Twitter that they were keeping an eye on the orca's body to prevent it from being hit by a ship, which would jeopardize the autopsy.
According to local authorities, the investigation will look into the reasons behind why and how the orca got stranded and how it died, in addition to information gathering regarding the illness.
Experts, to guide the whale back to its natural habitat, attempted to use sonar techniques on the weekend after it appeared in the river, astonishing the people surrounding it.
However, efforts to save the orca were met with "a lack of alertness, inconsistent reactions to sound stimuli and erratic and disoriented behavior," regional authorities said in a statement.
"The sound recordings also revealed vocal calls similar to cries of distress," the statement said, revealing that the animal seemed to be in a "critical state of health."
"Her skin was so ulcerated... She must have been in agony. Pieces of skin were falling off, there was nothing that could be done," said Gerard Mauger, vice-president of GECC, a Cherbourg-based organization for the conservation of marine animals.
"Everything was ready to euthanize her" when she was found dead, Mauger said.
It is said that the animal was suffering from mucormycosis, a fungal infection that has been becoming more and more apparent among marine animals. The disease, apparently, is known to cause severe distress.
The river flows into the English Channel, where orcas are occasionally spotted - however, their appearance in the River Seine is a rare sight.