110. A River of Secrets
As we partake in the daily hustle and bustle of London life, little do we realise that the wonders of nature never cease. As smog chokes the sky and the concrete jungle leers down at us, half a world away in the murky depths of the River Thames, there are wondrous things. For even as pollution continues to darken the skies and dirty the waters, beautiful creatures continue to make their way into our often probed depths.
Short-snouted seahorses - enigmatic creatures, which in 2008 found their way to our shores and river systems. Proof also that these once silted depths are now a cleaner waterway harbouring such diverse life. And these forms were not simply dumped pets, but a thriving species. Five such specimens, normally only found in the Mediterranean, were discovered during routine conservation surveys in east London. Despite these creatures usually living in far warmer climate, they do in fact inhabit shallow and muddy water.
During the autumn of 1998 a very 'out of place' creature was found in the Thames. A Leatherback Turtle (the largest of the sea turtles) was found washed up in east London by Tony Clancy and Steve Connor. The beast had originally been seen struggling in the Dartford River Crossing area a month previous, and had been found with a deep gash to the head. Although their distribution is wide, ranging from Africa to as far north as Alaska and Norway, such a reptile in the Thames is almost unthinkable!
Unfortunately, many turtles and terrapins were dumped into the countryside after the 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle' craze subsided, but there is proof once again that our seemingly mundane landmarks and waterways, which we often take for granted, can still produce surprises.
Photo by raindog on flickr