'Beluga whale' spotted in River Thames near London

ANALYSISSeptember 26 2018 9:32am The Times Underwater noise may have sent beluga whale off course Ben Webster Oceans Correspondent

ANALYSISSeptember 26 2018 9:32am The Times Underwater noise may have sent beluga whale off course Ben Webster Oceans Correspondent

Marine mammal experts at the Museum have said that it not possible to tell if the animal is definitely a beluga whale without clearer images, but they will keep an eye on its progress in the river.

It appears to have moved a few miles further west since yesterday.

Belugas live in estuaries, continental shelves and slopes, and deep ocean basins in open water, loose ice, and heavy pack ice.

"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 been just 20 sightings of beluga whales off the United Kingdom coast previously, but these have occurred off Northumberland, Northern Ireland and Scotland".

A spokeswoman for the organisation said the beluga's visit to the Thames was a "very rare occurrence", and urged people not to go out in boats to get a close look at the whale, but to watch it from the shore.

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Horry County Deputy Tom Fox told WPDE-TV the victims were mental health patients being transported from one facility to another. Holden wouldn't give further details on the victims' status, citing an ongoing state police investigation.

Tuesday's sighting is not the first time a whale has been spotted in the Thames. The whale's location is between two major container docks, Tilbury and the new London Gateway port. Highly sociable, they typically form pods and are often seen in river estuaries in the summer.

In 2006, a whale died after it swum up the Thames into central London despite efforts to rescue the animal.

According to National Geographic magazine, beluga whales can range from 13 to 20 feet in length.

On its second day in the city, as it lost strength, rescuers intervened and lifted it onto a barge by crane.

As day turns into evening here in Britain, many hope that the whale of 2018 will have a much happier ending.

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