Beluga whale spotted in River Thames

Beluga whale spotted in River Thames

Among the theories of how the beluga whale ended up in the Thames is that it followed a shoal of fish into the waterway.

The British Divers Marine Line Rescue urged people not to get too close and to only watch the creature from shore - and the BBC started a live stream to help folks do just that.

And a spokesman for the RSPCA said: "The RSPCA is aware of reports of a whale, possibly a beluga, in the Thames".

He added that the whale had been feeding around the barges across the Thames near Gravesend in Kent for around an hour and had not moved more than 200 meters.

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Beluga whale, also known as a white whale, are usually found in the Arctic Ocean and the seas and coasts around North America, Russia and Greenland - making today's sighting a rare occurrence.

Lucy Babey, head of science at Orca, a marine conservation charity, said: "This is the most southerly recording of a beluga in the UK".

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

The RSPCA says it is "working with other agencies to monitor the situation".

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In 2006, a northern bottle-nosed whale died after stranding itself in the Thames.

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

"The white body colour, absence of a prominent dorsal fin, bulbous forehead and general swimming motion all suggest this very strongly", he said.

The whales were nicknamed "canaries of the sea" by early whalers due to their squeaks and squawks.

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