'Beluga whale' spotted in River Thames - RSPCA investigating sightings

Christopher Davidson
September 25, 2018

Posting the shocking clip on Twitter, he said: 'Can't believe I'm writing this, no joke - beluga in the Thames off Coalhouse Fort.

A beluga whale is reported to have been spotted in the River Thames off the coast of Essex.

The British Divers Marine Life Rescue, which helps with rescues of stranded cetaceans and other marine animals, said they were sending their area coordinator down to the river to monitor the situation.

The creature was caught on camera popping above the water surface near Gravesend in Kent by ecologist and ornithologist Dave Andrews.

A spokeswoman for the organisation said it was a "very rare occurrence", and urged people not to go out in boats to get a close look at the whale, but to watch it from the shore.

And a spokesman for the RSPCA said: "The RSPCA is aware of reports of a whale, possibly a beluga, in the Thames".

"We would urge that the whale is given space and disturbance is kept to a minimum", he said.

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In January 2006, an 18ft northern bottlenose whale swam up the River Thames, with thousands of people watching from the riverbank as rescuers tried in vain to save it.

"The beluga is an Arctic/sub-Arctic species, so is a long way outside its usual range of distribution".

Belugas (file picture), also known as white whales, are known for having rounded foreheads and no dorsal fin.

'As incredible as a beluga whale in the River Thames is, it poses a potentially tragic fate for it.

Ranging from 13ft to 20ft in length, they are common in the Arctic Ocean's coastal waters - but migrate southwards in large herds when the sea freezes over.

Beluga calls variously resemble a cork being prized from a bottle or a creaking door, along with sounds described as clicks, squeaks, chirps, bleats, moans, groans, and whistles.

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