Beluga whale makes waves as it swims up Thames near London

Beluga whale makes waves as it swims up Thames near London

Beluga whale makes waves as it swims up Thames near London

According to the UK-based Whale and Dolphin Conservation group, there have been just 20 sightings of beluga whales off the United Kingdom coast before today's incident.

A beluga whale has been spotted swimming in the River Thames, sparking fears that the creature is in danger.

Beluga whales are usually found in the Arctic Ocean, with males measuring as long as 5.5 metres and can also weigh up to 1,600kg.

Among the theories of how the beluga whale ended up in the Thames is that it followed a shoal of fish into the waterway.

Richard Sabin, principal curator of mammals at the Natural History Museum, said photos and videos he had seen appeared to show a beluga whale.

Rob Lott, a marine mammal scientist at the Whale and Dolphin Conservation wildlife charity, said the cetacean was being monitored in case it strands on a sandbank.

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She added the animal was "swimming strongly" and it would hopefully swim back out to sea, and not travel the other way up the Thames.

The RSPCA said it was aware of reports of a whale in the Thames.

"Beluga whales are a species of the icy Arctic - finding one in the tepid Thames is an astonishingly rare event", said Rod Downie, polar chief adviser at WWF, the World Wide Fund for Nature. "There have only been around 20 sightings of beluga whales off the United Kingdom coast previously, but these have occurred off Northumberland, Northern Ireland and Scotland".

We would encourage people to look from the land if the whale is still close to the coast.

In 2006, a northern bottle-nosed whale died after stranding itself in the Thames. They have a rounded forehead and no dorsal fin.

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

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