Published: Wed, September 26, 2018
Sci-tech | By Laverne Osborne

Underwater noise may have sent beluga whale off course

Underwater noise may have sent beluga whale off course

The last sighting of Beluga whales in United Kingdom waters was in 2015 when they were spotted off northeastern England near the Northumberland coastline, but they left shortly afterwards.

A beluga whale spotted in London's River Thames surfaced again on Wednesday near the British capital, hundreds of miles from its normal Arctic habitat.

The RSPCA animal welfare group said that it was "working with other agencies to monitor the situation" and sent researchers to the scene.

However rescue teams are on standby in case it gets into danger.

Belugas, also known as white whales, are "one of the most familiar and easily distinguishable" of all whales, according to National Geographic.

Benny the Beluga, as it has now been named, appears to have moved a few miles further west since yesterday.

"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.

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"The Thames beluga is back feeding in its favoured spot around the barges on the Kent side", he said urging all boats to "keep clear and let it alone".

Beluga whales were last spotted in the United Kingdom three years ago off the coast of Northumberland and Northern Ireland, but sightings were "extremely rare", spokeswoman Julia Cable said.

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

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

In 2006, a whale died after it swam up the river into central London despite efforts to rescue the animal.

They are common to many regions of Alaska, as well as Russia, Canada, and Greenland.

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