Unusual sighting: Beluga whale spotted in River Thames outside London

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

Rescue teams were on standby in case the animal, which is normally found thousands of miles away in the Arctic, gets into danger, and have urged people to keep their distance.

Whale watchers have flocked to the banks of the Thames to try and spot the mammal.

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

"Beluga whales inhabit cold, Arctic waters off Greenland, Svalbard and in the Barents Sea", the group said.

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.


"We are surprised and a little saddened that it has resurfaced again - we had hoped it had gone out to deeper waters and gone out to where it should be", said Lucy Babey, head of science and conservation at the ORCA charity.

"He or she is obviously very lost and quite possibly in trouble".

The British Divers Marine Life Rescue, which helps with rescues of stranded cetaceans and other marine animals, said they were sending their area coordinator down to the river to monitor the situation.

"In the summer of 2015 two were spotted off the Northumberland coast and one in Northern Ireland", he said.

The rare marine mammal, nicknamed Benny, was seen near Gravesend yesterday and appeared to be swimming strongly and feeding in the estuary.

The beaked whale, dubbed the Prince of Whales by some, became a sensation in London with large crowds gathering to watch the ultimately fruitless rescue attempts and near 24-hour media coverage.

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