Saturday 29 September 2018

Delphinapterus leucas: Beluga Whale enters the Thames.

A Beluga Whale, Delphinapterus leucas, has been sighted in the Thames this week, having apparently wandered thousands of kilometres from its usual Arctic habitat. The animal was first observed on Thursday 27 September 2018, near Gravesend, and has remained in the area since. Divers from British Divers Marine Life Rescue have observed the animal and report that it is foraging and feeding normally, despite its unusual location, though the Port of London Authority is taking measures to keep sightseers away, as a Northern Bottle-nosed Whale, Hyperoodon ampullatus, that entered the river in 2006 died after beaching itself when it was startled by a boat.

A Beluga Whale, Delphinapterus leucas, in the Thames this week. Channel 4 News.

Beluga Whales typically live in the Arctic Ocean, where they reproduce during the summer months. When this environment largely freezes over during the winter, and the Whales migrate south into the North Atlantic and North Pacific. They do not, however, typically come as far south as the UK, with sightings in areas such as the Hebrides being considered exceptional. This has led to speculation that the animal may have become separated from its pod and disorientated during Atlantic Storm Ali which caused severe weather to the northeast Atlantic two weeks ago.

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