A humpback whale was sighted by residents, swimming in the Thames about twenty kilometers from central London, this weekend. It seems that the animal has since managed to reach the sea.
Whales exist in British waters. It can sometimes happen that some specimens get lost in the Thames. Last year, for example, a beluga named Benny spent several months in the river before coming out again. In 2006, a 5-meter Scandinavian whale was also found in the Thames. Accustomed to deep water, she had not survived.
A whale 10 meters long
A few days ago, it was a humpback whale that came closer to London. The mammal has indeed been seen several times over the weekend near Gravesend, about 20 kilometers from the center of the capital. The whale was seen “dipping and resurfacing about every five to six minutes, slowly down the river,” reads The Independent.
The sightings would have lasted about three hours. The animal, which was about 10 meters long, was clearly neither distressed nor wounded, and far from being disturbed by the container ships going up and down the Thames. It seems that the whale has simply lost itself, and that it has since managed to reach the sea, accompanied by the ebb tide.
Probable Humpback Whale in the Thames today, off Rainham pic.twitter.com/NBMqQDgq6P
— David Callahan (@Callahanbirder) October 6, 2019
Whales in London and New York
Also remember that more and more humpback whales – a protected species – are seen near New York. Thanks in particular to the clean-up efforts of the Hudson River (adoption of the Clean Water Act in 1972). The number of observations has even increased by 540% in the last eight years. More than one hundred identified individuals would regularly visit the premises.
On another positive note, we also learned a few months ago that humpback whales in Antarctica are gradually recovering from their near-extinction. These animals have indeed disappeared during the 18th and 19th centuries because of humans. The laws enacted in recent decades have nonetheless paid off.
It would even seem that global warming gives them a little extra boost. Whales have more “ice-free days” to feed on krill. Which favors pregnancies.
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