Remember the tragedy of the Thames Whale? Course you do. The massive mammal meandered up the estuary and into every vaguely animal loving Londoner’s heart like an extraordinary underwater beast from a faraway land before expiring, helpless, lost and crushed beneath its own weight, aboard its rescue boat.
It was a sad day.
However, it seems we shouldn’t have been so surprised by the presence of one of the largest mammals in the world in our urban waters. The ZSL Marine Mammal Sighting Survey reports that between July 2005 and June 2006, there were an astonishing 4 sightings of whales in the Thames as well as 8 dolphins, 37 porpoises and 49 seals.
Of course, the survey is based on the reports of people who live, work and play along the river. There are no guarantees that certain of the creatures weren’t double or even triple counted but, still, we’re amazed at the number of marine visitors who’ve chosen to visit our capital rather than bask in an Attenborough shoot in a deeper, more remote and unpopulated location.
The results of the survey, which is in its 4th year, will be used to get a better picture of marine life in the Thames and help us to better conserve and manage habitats for all our aquatic friends. If you’re a regular river gazer, check out the latest sightings and participate in the ongoing survey now.
You can also pore over the sightings map which proves that seals love Docklands: WILDLIFE FACT.
Image of the Thames whale courtesy of Mr Jaded’s Flickrstream.