Humpback whale spotted in River Thames found dead

8 October 2019, 20:56 | Updated: 8 October 2019, 21:15

A humpback whale that was spotted in the River Thames has been found dead, the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) has said.

The animal was first spotted around Woolwich and Dagenham, east London, over the weekend and its presence there was later confirmed by the BDLMR.

While it was said to be "doing fine" and showcasing "normal diving and surfacing behaviour" at the time, it has since been found dead several hours after it was last seen.

The BDLMR confirmed in a tweet: "Terribly sad news that soon after 5pm today the humpback whale which had not been seen in the Thames all day, was found dead around the Greenhithe area."

The whale was found near the Kent town having been filmed off Erith Pier some miles west along the river at around 8am.

Julia Cable, national coordinator for the BDMLR, said the animal probably ended up in the river because of a navigational error, as it is unusual to see humpback whales in the Thames Estuary.

Those that have previously made their way into the Thames have endured mixed fortunes.

In 2009, a humpback whale was found washed up on the shore in Kent, seemingly after dying from starvation.

Last year, a beluga whale, nicknamed Benny, was spotted swimming in the Thames near Gravesend but is thought to have made his own way back to sea in the new year.

It was hoped that the latest whale to swim up the Thames would also find its way out without help, as it did not initially appear to be in any distress.

The BDLMR said an autopsy will be carried out by the Cetacean Stranding Investigation Programme, which will then publish its findings.