Beluga whale spotted in France's Seine river
While adult Belugas migrate away from the Arctic in the autumn to feed, they rarely venture so far south Jorgen REE WIIG NTB Scanpix/AFP

A Beluga whale, a protected species usually found in cold Arctic waters, has been seen in France's Seine river, with authorities urging people to keep their distance to avoid distressing the animal.

Officials in the Eure department of Normandy said late Wednesday that images suggested it was a beluga separated from its pod, though they did not specify its size nor where exactly it was seen.

An adult beluga can reach up to four meters (13 feet) in length, and while they migrate away from the Arctic in the autumn to feed as ice forms, they rarely venture so far south.

"Studies of its health are underway to determine the best measures to take to ensure its chances of survival," the Eure regional authorities said.

In May, a killer whale -- technically part of the dolphin family -- was found dead in the Seine between the port city of Le Havre and Rouen.

The animal had been stranded in the river, which flows through Paris to the Channel, and was unable to find its way back to the ocean despite attempts by officials to guide it.

The Eure authorities said lone belugas do sometimes swim farther south than usual, and are able to temporarily survive in fresh water.

© 2022 AFP