Thames whale: 'No major concerns' as beluga moves towards estuary

A beluga whale seen in the Thames for a second day is "swimming strongly and feeding normally", the RSPCA has said.

The animal welfare charity said the whale, nicknamed Benny, had moved towards the estuary, and there were no major concerns for its welfare - writes bbc.com

It was first spotted around barges in the Thames on Tuesday near Gravesend.

Rescue teams have been on standby in case the animal, which is normally found thousands of miles away in the Arctic, gets into danger.

RSPCA spokeswoman Clare Dew said: "It appears to be feeding normally - it is not attempting to come anywhere near the banks and it is staying in the deep channel in the middle of the river."

Conservationists said they hoped its instincts would soon kick in, and it would head out of the estuary and back north.

Ships in the river were being urged to keep clear, and the public has been asked not to take to the water to watch it.

Beluga whales can grow up to 20ft in length and are usually at home in the icy waters around Greenland, Svalbard or the Barents Sea.

'Lost its way'

A spokeswoman for the British Divers Marine Life Rescue said it was sending a team to Gravesend to assess the whale's condition.

Julia Cable, national co-ordinator for the conservation charity, said: "It's possible that it lost its way after a navigational error, that it has taken a wrong turn. We haven't got an idea about the health of the animal."

Lucy Babey, head of science and conservation at Orca, a marine conservation charity, said: "This is the most southerly recording of a beluga in the UK.

"These animals can navigate in shallow coastal water so hopefully it will swim away."

She said any noise in the water could impair its sophisticated sonar navigation system.

Tanya Ferry, environment manager at the Port of London Authority which is monitoring the whale, said the number of plastic bags in the River Thames could become an issue for the whale.

"We're hoping if we give it enough space and keep an eye on it, it will find its own way out of the Thames to an environment that's more appropriate for it.

"We certainly don't want people trying to rescue it."

Beluga whales were last spotted in the UK three years ago off the coast of Northumberland and Northern Ireland, but sightings were "extremely rare", the British Divers Marine Life Rescue said.

In 2006, an 18ft (5m) northern bottle-nosed whale died after becoming stranded in the Thames .

The RSPCA said: "We are working with other agencies to monitor the situation and ready to provide appropriate assistance if requested."

People looking onto the river

Image copyright REUTERS Image caption Crowds gathered to look from the river bank after the whale was spotted in the River Thames near Gravesend, east of London

What is a beluga whale?

Beluga whale

Image copyright RIA NOVOSTI/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Belugas, also known as white whales, are "one of the most familiar and easily distinguishable" of all whales, according to National Geographic.

They range from 13ft (3.9m) to 20ft (6.1m) in length and have distinctive rounded foreheads.

Belugas are commonly found in coastal waters of the Arctic Ocean, but are also at home in large rivers. They can move between salt and fresh water.

They are common to Alaska, Russia, Canada, and Greenland.

The whales were nicknamed "canaries of the sea" by early whalers due to their squeaks and squawks.

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.

beluga Thames
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
5 views in january
I recommend
No recommendations yet

Comments

Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

Society
At least eight suspected migrants have landed on a beach near Dover this morning with some managing to flee before emergency services could arrive.  The migrants are believed to have braced the cold weather overnight to cross the channel. Footage of the landing appeared to show up to eight people on board a small dinghy, which was being towed by a Border Force patrol vessel. According to Sky News, the dingy was picked up by fishermen earlier this morning,...
Sports
England female basketball stars were joined by an NBA great to inspire young women to take up their sport. Siobhan Prior and Georgia Jones were joined by three-time NBA champion Bruce Bowen at the Jr. NBA Girls Clinic, hosted at CitySport in Barbican on Monday, before a game at the O2 on Thursday between the Washington Wizards and the New York Knicks. Prior and Jones, who were in the silver medal-winning England Women’s team at the Gold Coast Commonwealth...
Society
Grieving parents heard that new medical practices could have saved their baby, who died in their arms at just four days old from preventable brain damage caused during labour. Sebastian Clark was born at Kingston Hospital on March 8 2017,  with devastating injuries from which he would never recover. Failure by midwives to escalate the case and subsequent failure by doctors to expedite the pregnancy, despite knowing that Sebastian’s mother Alison had develo...
Crime
A man has been tasered and arrested by police at a train station in south London. The 59-year old is currently being questioned on suspicion of attempted murder and possession of an offensive weapon after being detained at Tulse Hill. British Transport Police officers were called to the station just after 6:30pm to reports of someone carrying a knife. Nobody was injured and the arrest is not believed to be terror related. Witnesses are being urged to conta...
Crime
A mother has died and her eight-month-old boy is in hospital after being hit by a car as they crossed a road. The woman, believed to be in her 20s, was pushing a pram when they were hit in Anerley, south London, last night. The boy is in a serious condition after suffering from life-threatening injuries. The driver of the car that is believed to have hit them was also taken to hospital for non-life-threatening injuries and is helping police with their inqu...
News Company
Breaking up with your partner is always a disastrous event. However, if your partner decides to break up with you, it isn’t necessarily the end. Statistically 66% of exes want to get back together again. 50% of separated couples reunite. Here we will show you tips on how to fix a broken relationship. If you want to find your love you must realize that it is all about respect and understanding your beloved one.  Accepting The Situation  You have to calm dow...
Society
A Londoner who used to contemplate suicide on his morning commute is now running the length of every Tube line to raise money for a mental health charity. Daniel Sherry, 29, quit his sports PR job in April 2018 and set about completing “30 challenges before 30”, including running his first marathon and cycling from London to Paris. His latest exploit is seeing him traverse all 11 lines of the capital’s 249 mile-long underground network above ground, on foo...
Crime
The family of London teenager Jayden Moodie say he had no links to gangs and was "murdered in cold blood". Jayden Moodie, 14, was stabbed to death by attackers who knocked him off a moped in Leyton on Tuesday in what police believe was a targeted attack. The teenager had moved from Nottingham to London with his mother six months ago for a "new start". No arrests have been made over Jayden's death, the Met Police has said. Speaking near to the scene where J...
Crime
A clubber who ploughed his car onto a packed dance floor in a drink and drug-fuelled rage after being thrown out by bouncers has been jailed for 28 years. Mohammed Abdul said he felt “humiliated” after being ejected from Blake’s nightclub in Gravesend, Kent, on March 17 last year. He drank at least 15 glasses of vodka, tequila shots and more than “five to 10 spliffs” of cannabis before he got behind the wheel of his Suzuki Vitara. Bouncers had kicked him o...