British Divers Marine Life Rescue
British Divers Marine Life Rescue (photo: Steve Marsh)
British Divers Marine Rescue


2006-01-21 14:28:57

Northern Bottlenose whale - River Thames

» Comprehensive BBC coverage

19.10hrs : Just before 19.00hrs we received a report from the barge that the whale had taken a sudden down turn in condition. At 19.00hrs it was confirmed that the whale had suffered a series of convulsions and died.

8.10hrs : The MV Crossness is now heading towards the Margate area. Condition of the whale permitting - and the opinion of the vet - a controlled release may be attempted, but the general opinion about the chances of the animals recovery are still pessimistic.

17.10hrs : There has been a downturn in the whales condition due to being out of the water and therefore not supported in its natural environment. The whale is becoming compromised and Paul Jepson (vet) is now pessimistic that the animal is going to make a full recovery. Plans to transfer to an ocean-going vessel have been shelved and any release will now have to take place from the barge which limits the distance/depth we can reach. The longer it is on the barge the worse its condition will be so we have a trade off between time on board and how far we can take it out to sea.

15.50hrs : The whale has been moved by crane on to vessel MV Crossness which is now moving East down the Thames. Examination of the whale is continuing while it's making its journey and the vet is said to be "cautiously optimistic" at this stage. No decision has been made on whether or when it will be released yet, or where it will be released, if appropriate. The volunteers of BDMLR are doing a superb job and relying on their training and professionalism - thank you to them and all the agencies assisting us.

13.09hrs : Whale currently in pontoons at rescue site. BDMLR Medics being lead by Director Mark Stevens and Vet Paul Jepson. The animal is being examined by the vet and the results of those test will determine the next actions.

11.05hrs : The whale is in the Albert Bridge area. BDMLR is considering a number of possible options and offers of assistance but we must stress that we will be lead by the veterinary opinion of the animal. Being realistic, if the animal is found to be in such a poor condition that the vet states it will not survive if released, it may have to be euthansed. However we hope that the animal will be reasonable condition and we have a number of plans being considered for transporting the animal to deep water outside the Thames Estuary. More news here as it comes in.

09.25hrs : Just spoke to BDMLR Essex Coordinator Faye Archell on board Port Authority boat. They are observing the whale in the Albert Bridge area. If it gets into water shallow enough for them to stand in they will attempt to take control of the whale.

08.10hrs : Possible sighting at Chelsea area. Not confirmed.

06.10hrs : The whale is likely to be still in the central London area and we are standing by to assist if it strands. We cannot try and capture the animal while it is still free swimming as this is not only dangerous for ourselves but would be incredibly stressful to the whale. Suggestions of using sonar, whale song etc are being considered but may not work due to the geography of river and the poor condition of the whale. More here as it comes in.

04.00hrs : Last confirmed sighting of whale as it struggled against the incoming tide. Has not stranded as the beaches/banks have now submerged.

01.35hrs : The whale is close to Dolphin Square just upstream of Vauxhall Bridge. It is described as quiet.

/06 01.10hrs : Confirmed sighting back at Battersea area. Medic Jamie Henn is on site with a couple of other medics plus the rescue equipment. He confirms it stranded briefly before they could reach it and it then freed itself from the bank. The Port Authority launch confirms the river is only 2.5m deep at its deepest in this area.

23.45hrs : Main BDMLR team now off to get some sleep. Port Authority monitoring area. Medics will be in the area again at first light tomorrow unless a confirmed sighting arises overnight. Equipment all still in area.

23.15hrs : No confirmed sighting of the whale since 21.00hrs when a BBC cameraman had a confirmed sighting at Greenwich. BDMLR RIB and Port Authority boat unable to locate it. BDMLR RIB now out of water but local medics are continuing to monitor the river. The Port Authority boat carrying BDMLR Medics and equipment is returning to the Battersea area. Another boat is heading west from Dagenham to search for the whale.

21.00hrs : Possible sighting of the whale at Greenwich, BDMLR team on RIB 'Amanda' in the area to check it out.

20.30hrs : The BDMLR team is to stay on the river until at least 22.00hrs to try and locate the whale.

18.00hrs : Update from BDMLR's RIB on the Thames. The whale was last seen heading upstream but has not been sighted for sometime. The team are trying to locate the animal again. Paul Jepson (vet from ZSL) has expressed his concerns that the whale is not swimming in a determined manner, has injuries to the top of its head and earlier showed signs of flexion when it briefly stranded.

16.00hrs : Directors Geoff Hammock and Mark Stevens are shortly launching one of our RIBs on the Thames. Vet, Paul Jepson, is on the scene but obviously is unable to fully assess the whale while it is still free swimming.

Update - 10.35hrs : Liz Sandeman of Marine Connection is on a Lifeboat and confirms the animal, possibly a Pilot whale, is under Waterloo Bridge. It appears in reasonable condition but its location is concerning.

09.00hrs : Following several calls yesterday suggesting a 'whale' was travelling up the Thames towards central London, another report today at 8.30am suggests the 16-18ft animal was seen at Waterloo Bridge. Local volunteers are checking it out and liasing with the river Police, Port Authority and London Fire Brigade.