Porpoises in the Thames: did storm surge lead pod up river?
Five porpoises spotted in Westminster expected to find their own way out after they fill up on fish
A POD of five porpoises have been spotted in the Thames in the Westminster area of London.
The Metropolitan Police’s marine unit originally believed they had seen a dolphin near Tower Bridge earlier this morning, but hours later said they were following five porpoises.They tweeted: “The porpoises seem happy enough. They are surfacing regularly and are staying in the Westminster area.”
Stephen Mowat, a marine conservationist for London Zoo, has told The Guardian it was uncommon to see so many so far up the Thames. “With the condition of the Thames improving we are getting more and more sightings of marine mammals such as porpoise and seals,” he said.
One reason they might be so far up the river is because of the storm surge, said Mowat. The porpoises follow fish up the river, he said, so with high tides they might have gone further up the Thames to feed on more fish.
“They should be fine,” he added. “They can find their way up river and go back down again. As soon as they’ve had their fill of fish they will find their way back out.”
The porpoises (similar to the one pictured above) are not the largest creatures to be spotted in the river. In 2006, a four-tonne northern bottlenose whale, which became known as Wally, swam more than 40 miles up the Thames. Despite a frantic £100,000 rescue mission, she died as rescuers tried to return her to salt water. Experts believe she had become stranded after mistakenly swimming into the North sea and then up the Thames as she tried to head west for the Atlantic ocean to feed on deep sea squid.
A new policy was later introduced to humanely kill whales beached on British shores as soon as possible after they are found, rather than trying to return them to the ocean, which would prolong their suffering.
Today’s sightings have been added to the London Zoo’s interactive Thames Marine Mammal Survey, which monitors the population of marine mammals in the Thames Estuary. It is an online interactive map that allows members of the public to report sightings of seals, porpoises, dolphins or whales. ·