There's no way to break this gently:
Go take photos now.
BBC24 are talking about a rescue boat being launched...
Update: It's a
pilot whale Northern Bottle Nosed whale normally found in deep water so while it's in no immediate danger it does need to be encouraged to pull a Charles Kennedy and wave a fond goodbye to Parliament sooner rather than later.
Some bint on Beeb24 just called it a "fish". BBC are now braced for about a gazillion emails.
Ohh it just hit a boat and is now heading for the bank. Japanese tourists look nervous in case this is some kind of Jaws: The Revenge deal...
Seems the whale (and maybe a pal) arrived yesterday, but quickly turned tail and headed back out past the Thames barrier. Now that the tide has turned there's renewed hope that it will make it back 'home'.
Quote from our man on the ground, Nick:
Bloody hell! Imaging my surprise, when, sitting in the office, it comes on the news that there is a bloody great whale in the Thames outside. I ran over to the Terrace (on the river), as did a load of other people, including John Prescott, and spotted the thing swimming around. It then buggered off up towards Chiswick. Interesting stuff people, the first Whale in the Thames on record since 1913!
:( Things are looking more bleak. The beeb are warning people to prepare for the worst. Nick informs us that the whale is now possibly bleeding and attempting to beach. "Plus there is another Whale over at Southend on Sea calling audibly, possibly our friend's mother"
The whale beached itself outside Battersea Power Station. People waded into the water to get it back out into the main body of the Thames. It is believed that the animal is bleeding from the tail end of its body, and it seems unlikely that it will escape alive.
Stop press: The whale is now believed to be swimming back towards the estuary, and a rescue attempt is being discussed.
2.15 pm: Rescue boat filled with whale saving equipment to be launched in the next hour!
Bleeding in whales is apparently heavy no matter how small the injury so blood in the water may not be as bad a sign as first thought. However, experts are prepared to put the mammal down if it is indeed suffering. Reports of a second whale at Southend have now been confirmed on the BBC.
The RNLI are asking onlookers to stay OUT of the Thames. There's a tide warning and there are worries that people wading in to help could drown. It's not a simple matter of 'shooing' the whale back into the water as it will have to be assessed medically first. Plus hasn't anyone seen Orca: Killer Whale? Stay on dry land folks!
2.45 Holy crap: There are now unconfirmed reports of a small group of whales at the mouth of the Thames estuary. Police and conservation group divers are on standby.
3pm British Divers Marine Life Rescue is the name of the voluntary divers' team that may be helping police divers with the rescue. They are heading towards London now. An RSPCA spokesperson said that "Due to the location [of the whale], a rescue could be difficult... The first line of approach is trying to rescue it using sound (sonar), before using more potientially distressful methods, such as catching it... There is a strong suggestion that the two whales are together" (referring to the other whale at Southend)
If it is ill, it may have to be put out of its misery, as it is simply too big to treat. After just over an hour of not being spotted it's just resurfaced near Battersea Park and is now thought to be elderly.
Just when we thought the story couldn't get any more interesting Nick sends this:
One more thing, there is apparently unexploded material just across the river from parliament. Keep an eye on it!
We're not quite sure what to make of that and the Beeb has now moved onto a breaking Pete Doherty story. If the whale turns out to be filled with terrorists we'll give you the heads up.
3.30 The BBC have been asking viewers to name the whale. Frontrunners so far are predictably Big Ben and Sushi, but George Galloway also went down well as the whale is 'spouting off in public outside of Parliament while everyone else is stuck inside working'.
It's coming up to 5.30 so we're signing off for now. We'll be back if anything major happens and perhaps an update over the weekend. We'll leave you with Channel Four's Jon Snow:
A rescue effort is underway but I am afraid the chainsaw and the funeral pyre are not far away. Even as I write that there are people in this newsroom tut-tutting at my pessimism; little do they do now know what an expert I am as I go every year whale watching in Cape Cod.