London’s marine life
DID YOU KNOW that seals have been spotted as far upstream as Hampton Court Palace on the River Thames? Or that harbour porpoises and dolphins have been seen at Teddington Lock?
In fact, more than 2,700 seals, porpoises, dolphins and whales have been spotted in the Thames Estuary over the past ten years.
The ZSL Thames Marine Mammal Sightings Survey, which launched in 2004, was designed to help conservationists develop a better understanding of how marine mammals use the Thames Estuary, in order to help conserve them.
“People are often surprised to hear that marine mammals are regularly spotted in Central London,” said Joanna Barker, European Conservation Projects Manager at ZSL “As a top predator, their presence is a good sign that the Thames is getting cleaner and supporting many fish species. The presence of these animals is also a great example of how urban environments are important for wildlife.” Other highlights from the ten-year report include: * Most sightings were of individual animals, but occasionally large groups were seen, including 100 seals spotted at Greenwich in September 2014
* Many sightings were recorded in central London, especially between the Houses of Parliament and the 02 Arena, with Hammersmith another hotspot * Harbour seals were the most commonly spotted marine mammal. “We were pleased to see that harbour seals were some of the most commonly spotted mammals. Their numbers have dramatically declined in some parts of Scotland, so the fact that they are frequently sighted in the Thames Estuary confirms that the South East is an important area for their conservation,” said Joanna Barker.
“It’s fantastic that so many people have got involved in the project – we rely on sightings to understand the whereabouts and behaviour of marine mammals in central London. The more Londoners get involved, the more accurate our understanding of wildlife in the Thames will be.”
The survey is ongoing and you can take part zsl.org/inthethames
Have you spotted one?