ZSL in race to save London’s whale
Friday 20 January 2006
The Zoological Society of London’s (ZSL) has dispatched its marine mammal veterinary pathologist, Paul Jepson, to the banks of the Thames to assist with the rescue of this special animal spotted just this morning in river. It will now be a race against time to save the animal.
ZSL confirmed this morning that a Northern bottlenose whale, approximately 16-20 foot in length had been spotted in The River Thames, in between Lambeth Bridge and Westminster Bridge. This is the furthest upstream this species has ever been sighted.
Alison Shaw, ZSL Marine and Freshwater Conservation Programme Manager, said ‘The northern bottle-nosed whale is a deep diving beaked whale, normally found in the Northern Atlantic. It is therefore highly unusual for this species to venture as far upstream as this, and we are obviously concerned for its survival’.
ZSL co-ordinates UK Marine mammal strandings from our Institute of Zoology so the animal will come to us for a post mortem in the unfortunate event that it dies.
ZSL has been surveying marine mammals in the Thames for the last two years in order to better understand how these special animals use the River. However, it is usually seals, dolphins and porpoises that members of the public report to us.
Riverside pub patrons, commuters and river users throughout the capital have all been involved in gathering the essential survey information about these unexpected Thames species and so far ZSL has received 103 sightings by the public, totalling 197 animals.
Included in the first year results were porpoises spotted off Vauxhall Bridge, common seals around Canary Wharf, the Thames Barrier and Tower Bridge, plus dolphins swimming near Southend in Essex, just inside the mouth of the river.
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ZSL Press Office, 0207 449 6241