Sadly, the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) have confirmed that the humpback whale seen swimming in the River Thames over the weekend has died.
There had been no sightings of the whale on Tuesday 8th October and an appeal was put out to locals for any information or sightings, but on Tuesday afternoon the whales motionless body was spotted on mudflats in the Greenhithe area of the Thames.
The humpback whale was first seen over the weekend with multiple sightings reported between Rainham and Greenhite, and on Monday near the Ford Factory in Dagenham. It is likely the whale came into the River Thames after a navigational error or due to illness. Onlookers estimated that the whale was between 5-10m in length. These animals can grow up to 18m in length, therefore this individual is likely to be a juvenile. When it was first spotted there were no initial signs of distress, but as the days went on and more photos surfaced it started to become apparent that the whale wasn’t in the best health. ORCA’s Head of Science and Conservation said:
‘Photos and observations revealed that the animal was in poor condition, appearing malnourished with little fat reserves, and therefore the outcome of this whale dying was sadly not unexpected. The whale could have become disorientated due to its poor health and made a navigational error leading it into the Thames, but the exact cause of death will not be known until a necropsy is conducted.’
The BDMLR are hoping that The Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP) will carry out necropsy today to determine the cause of death.