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Humpback whale
Photograph: Pixabay

Thar she blows: there’s a humpback whale in the Thames!

Jess Phillips
Written by
Jess Phillips

It’s happening again. No, not another general election, but a whale spotted in the Thames.

Over the weekend there were numerous sightings of a juvenile whale, believed to be around 26 feet long, near the Dartford Crossing in Kent – just beyond the M25. It was even reported to have strayed into actual London, with a sighting near Erith. It’s the first humpback spotted in the river for ten years. (We know, we know: we haven’t forgotten about Benny, the whale who spent three months in the Thames Estuary last year. He was a beluga whale. Did you learn nothing from ‘Blue Planet’?)

The humpback doesn’t seem to be in trouble, according to British Divers Marine Life Rescue – which is good news, as it doesn’t always end well for whales in the Thames. In 2006, a stranded bottlenose whale died London’s most spectated death since public executions stopped being the nineteenth century’s answer to Netflix. Its skeleton later went on display at the Natural History Museum.

For now, London’s wildlife spotters have a chance to witness one of only around 80,000 humpback whales left on earth without having to drop by the North Pacific. Though you might want to rain-check that kayak tour down the Thames for a day when there’s less chance of being cannonballed by a 30-tonne predator.

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