There's A Heck Of A Lot More Living In The Thames Than You Realise, Says ZSL

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 6 months ago

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There's A Heck Of A Lot More Living In The Thames Than You Realise, Says ZSL
Image: ZSL/Jonathan Kemeys

Conservation charity the Zoological Society of London had launched a new campaign to raise awareness of the wildlife living in the Thames.

ZSL — the charity behind London Zoo — is using the Mother Thames campaign to encourage people to pay attention to what's going on beneath the surface of London's river — rather than writing it off as a murky brown wasteland — and to get involved with wildlife monitoring projects.

A short-snouted seahorse found in the Thames. Image: ZSL/ Anna Cucknell

The Thames was declared biologically dead in the 1950s, but has been brought back to life by improvements to the quality of water and targeted conservation projects. It's often cited as an example of how wildlife can be brought back from the brink with the right management.

Scientists from ZSL play a key role in conserving and monitoring the creatures that live in the river, including carrying out an annual grey and harbour seal census, and overseeing European eel monitoring and oyster restoration projects. In 2015, we spent a rather chilly night on a boat searching for porpoises, in a joint project between ZSL and Marine Conservation Research.

What lies beneath? Quite a lot, actually. Image: Shutterstock

ZSL is due to publish a State of Thames Report in autumn 2019, the first detailed report on the health of the river in 60 years. It provides a comprehensive scientific analysis of wildlife in the Thames, and defines the indicators for assessing the health of river, using evidence and statistics from more than 30 conservation and research organisations.

ZSL’s Senior Conservation Programme Manager for UK & Europe, Alison Debney, said:

The River Thames is integral to the fabric of London, providing the venue for famous cultural events... but it's also a glorious wildlife habitat – despite what many Londoners might think.

What may look like murky brown waters is actually a river thriving with life, and ZSL is working to ensure it stays that way. From nurturing juvenile fish populations to providing a life source for the city, the River Thames is an example of Mother Nature at its finest.

Find out more about the Mother Thames campaign and ZSL's Thames conservation projects on the ZSL website.

Last Updated 08 April 2019

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