Humpback whale spotted in the River Thames

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Humpback whale spotted in the River Thames
ORCA stock image of a humpback whale

A humpback whale has been spotted in the River Thames in the Dagenham area and is being monitored by the relevant organisations.

Humpback whale sightings are becoming more common around the UK but the River Thames is not somewhere you would expect to see this giant of the ocean.  

Over the weekend, multiple sightings of an animal whale were reported between Rainham and Greenhithe with many onlookers catching the sight on camera. Almost after a year after Benny the Beluga was seen near Gravesend, it was confirmed this was a humpback whale and that it had been around the Thames for a couple of days.

Sightings of this animal were reported from around the Dartford Bridge on Sunday, later on in Erith and on Monday near the Ford factory in Dagenham.

The British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) have confirmed the presence of this marine mammal and yesterday spent 3 hours observing the animal, which was ‘diving and surfacing at approximately 5-6 minute intervals, slowly moving down river with the outgoing tide’. The Port of London Authority have also confirmed that they are aware of the animals and ‘ships are being advised appropriately’.  

Humpback whales are one of the most energetic of the larger whales. They are quite active animals and are regularly observed breaching lob-tailing and slapping their long pectoral fins on the surface. They are renowned for their long elegant complex songs which are sung by males during courtship. Humpback whales are found worldwide with distinct seasonal changes in distribution. They typically spend the summer in high latitudes to feed in cold waters and winder in the warmer tropic to breed. The last time a humpback whale was spotted in the Kent stretch of the Thames was in 2009. Numbers of the animal were depleted by whalers, however since they became protected in 1966 they have been making a slow recover. Currently they are vulnerable to human impact through chemical and noise pollution, ship strikes and entanglement in fishing gear.

The humpback whale, which is possibly thought to be around 8 meters long and a juvenile (humpback whales can grow up to 14-18meters long), is continuing to be monitored by the relevant organisations. Members of the public who do encounter the animal should remember to act responsibly to avoid disturbance and stay as far away as possible whether from land or on the water. If you have concerns about the animal’s welfare please contact British Divers Marine Life Rescue so their trained Marine Mammal Medics can take appropriate action to ensure its safety.