What Londoners think is in the Thames
Tuesday 12 April 2005
A new survey commissioned by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) revealed today that 83 per cent of people in London and the South East thought that shopping trolleys were the objects most likely to be found in the River Thames
This compares to 17 per cent who said salmon and a mere 6 per cent who chose Dover sole, despite the estuary being one of the most important nursery grounds for this fish.
Even though 93 percent of those surveyed felt that the Thames is an important part of their city, they are ignorant of the aquatic life that the estuary supports.
To many Londoners, the river still can't shake off its dirty old image, as its murky waters lead the majority of them to think that the capital's river is polluted.
In reality, over the last 30 years, the Thames Estuary has become one of the world's most unpolluted metropolitan tideways, but its rich variety of wildlife remains a well kept secret.
Commercially important fish species such as Dover sole and sea bass use the Thames as spawning and nursery grounds. The estuary's mud flats provide an essential feeding ground for the internationally important migrant bird populations and recent research, carried out by ZSL, has also confirmed that dolphins, porpoises and seals are all regular visitors to the Thames.
Alison Shaw, ZSL's Aquatic Conservation Programme Manager, commented, "It seems that Londoners know more about tropical rainforests than the river on their door step. What we are hoping to do is raise people’s awareness of how important the Thames is for wildlife and what needs to be done to protect it."
In partnership with other conservation organisations, ZSL is undertaking research into how wildlife uses the Thames Estuary to help establish a co-ordinated conservation action plan.
Londoners will get the chance to find out more about their river at a talk entitled The Thames Estuary – Awash with biodiversity to be held on Tuesday 12 April at the Zoological Society of London, Regent’s Park. Three of the top Thames fisheries scientists will be speaking about the aquatic wildlife of the Thames and its conservation.
The survey results will help to inform conservation organisations on how raise Londoners’ awareness of the Thames wildlife and engage their help to conserve it.
Key findings of the survey were:
- 93 per cent think that the River Thames is an important part of London
- Only 6 per cent identified Dover sole as a Thames species despite the estuary being an important nursery ground for this commercially important species
- Only 7 per cent thought that seals could be seen in the Thames. Since August 2004, there have been 135 sightings of seals in the Estuary
- 91 per cent of Londoners thought that more should be done to conserve the Thames and its wildlife.