The beluga whale which was lifted out of the River Seine earlier on Wednesday has died, despite the mission to save it, according to local authorities.
"Despite an unprecedented rescue operation for the beluga, we are sad to announce the death of the cetacean," the prefect of the Calvados department, said on Twitter.
After nearly six hours of work, the 800-kilogram (1,800-pound) cetacean was lifted from the river by a net and crane at around 4:00 am (0200 GMT) and placed on a barge under the immediate care of a dozen veterinarians.
The beluga, a protected species usually found in cold Arctic waters, would have been placed in a refrigerated truck and transported to the coast, Isabelle Dorliat-Pouzet, secretary general of the Eure prefecture, said ahead of the rescue operation.
The four-meter (13-foot) whale was spotted more than a week ago heading towards Paris and was stranded some 130 kilometers (80 miles) inland from the Channel at Saint-Pierre-La-Garenne in Normandy.
A seawater basin at a lock in the Channel port of Ouistreham had been readied for the animal, which will spend three days there under observation in preparation for its release.
The 24 divers involved in the operation and the rescuers handling the ropes had to try several times between 10:00 pm and 4:00 am to lure the animal into the nets to be lifted out of the water.
A handful of curious people remained on the bank all night to observe the operation.