"Once in a lifetime" sighting of beluga whale in the Thames

Author // Lucy Babey Categories // Whale & Dolphin General News

The animal is far from it's normal range and being monitored carefully by conservation organisations

Beluga whales are an icon of the marine world, instantly recognisable with their white colouration and expressive faces. However, they aren't usually associated with the Thames River - until today.

Earlier this afternoon, reports came in of a sighting of a white marine mammal in the Thames, with videos posted by consultant ecologist Dave Andrews on his Twitter feed.

The animal surfacing has the distinctive white colour and lack of dorsal fin characteristic of this species, with the animal reported to be feeding in the area.

ORCA Head of Science & Conservation, Lucy Babey, commented: "It's an incredibly unusual sighting, with the most recent record of belugas around the UK being in Northumberland in 2015. Considering how far the animal is from it's range, it may be distressed and so it is vital that onlookers both on land and at sea keep their distance."

Beluga's are a distinctive species, with flexible necks, no dorsal fin and unlike most cetaceans they can also swim backwards.

Members of a variety of conservation groups are monitoring the animal from the shore, and one of ORCA's very own marine mammal surveyors is putting the ID skills they learnt on our Marine Mammal Surveyor course into practice. 

Members of the public who do encounter the animal should stay as far away as possible and minimise any disturbance 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 it's safety.