Experts keep watch on beluga whale spotted off Gravesend

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

Conservationists have reported a fresh sighting of a "very lost" beluga whale in the Thames as they wait to see if it will head out to sea.

A beluga whale was spotted on Tuesday near barges in the River Thames near London, hundreds of miles from its normal Arctic habitat, naturalists said.

The animal welfare group RSPCA said Wednesday the whale is "able to move fast in the water and dive".

It is not clear why the whale, usually found in the Arctic, came to be in the River Thames but rescue teams are on standby in case it gets into danger.

The beluga's appearance brings back memories of the famous 2006 Thames whale.

"If this animal is a beluga whale, it is very far from home", London's Natural History Museum wrote on Twitter.

It says it is ready to provide help to the whale if asked to do so by other agencies.

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"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. The last sighting of a Beluga whale was some three years ago, off the coast of Northumberland, in northern England.

"We do have quite a lot of plastic bags, which could be quite an issue", she said.

A beluga whale has been spotted in the Thames, between Gravesend in Kent and Tilbury in Essex.

They are a social species, so to see one by itself in the River Thames is "concerning", he said.

The beaked whale, dubbed the Prince of Whales by some, became a sensation in London with large crowds gathering to watch the ultimately fruitless rescue attempts and near 24-hour media coverage.

This sea creature made a whale of a trip.

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