UK & World News

  • 6 December 2013, 21:47

Porpoises Seen In Thames After Tidal Surge

Five porpoises have been seen swimming in the River Thames in central London, hours after a storm surge hit southeast England.

The pod was picked up by a boat from the Metropolitan Police's Marine Policing Unit at about 9.30am near Tower Bridge.

Five were seen initially, moving to the Lambeth area, before three of them disappeared from view, leaving just two heading west past Battersea power station.

It is thought that they could have sought shelter in the Thames from the storm which has been ravaging the North Sea.

While the risk of tidal surges remains, the porpoises will be forced to remain in the river as the raising of the Thames Barrier has cut off their escape route.

The barrier was expected to be lowered at 5.30pm so it is hoped they will be able to return to the sea after that.

The Metropolitan Police Marine Policing Unit tweeted that it was following the porpoises - a type of cetacean related to a dolphin - and said: "The porpoises seem happy enough.

"They are surfacing regularly and are staying in the Westminster area."

A spokesman for the Marine Conservation Society said: "It is unusual for five animals to be in the river ... as porpoises tend to be seen alone, and in smaller groups.

"It isn't possible to say whether the tidal surge is the cause of the porpoises being in the river, but it could well be related, either to the tidal movement, or as a response to the particularly rough seas beforehand.

"The outer Thames Estuary would have been relatively sheltered from northerly offshore winds.

"The pod should be able to navigate back to sea, and pass through the Thames Barrier when the tide goes out and the barriers are opened."

Away from London, several seals have been washed up dead on shore on the north Norfolk coast.

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