Conservationists warn beluga reported in Thames could be ‘in trouble’

ANALYSISSeptember 26 2018 9:32am The Times Underwater noise may have sent beluga whale off course Ben Webster Oceans Correspondent

Yes, a beluga whale was spotted splashing around in Britain's River Thames, and Brits can't quite believe it.

Rescue teams are on standby in case the whale gets into danger.

Known as the "canary of the sea" due to their chirps, clicks and whistles, beluga whales can range from 13 ft to 20 ft in length and have distinctive round foreheads, known as "melons".

Edna Brady from Sky News spotted the whale this morning and said it looked like it had moved a few miles further west since yesterday.

Tanya Ferry, environment manager at the Port of London Authority, said it was unclear what the whale could eat.

Beluga whales can grow up to 20ft in length and are usually at home in the icy waters around Greenland, Svalbard or the Barents Sea.

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

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He urged people to give the whale "space and minimise disturbance".

"Beluga whales are not usually seen in British waters, so it's very rare", spokeswoman for the organization Julia Cable said.

Rob Lott, a marine mammal scientist at the Whale and Dolphin Conservation wildlife charity, said the cetacean was being monitored in case it strands on a sandbank.

A bottle-nosed whale became stranded in the Thames for two days in 2006, but died from convulsions as it was being rescued.

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

Belugas are able to produce sounds such as chirps, clicks, whistles and squeals, giving them the nickname "the canary of the sea".

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