Porpoise Spotted Swimming Near Barnes Railway Bridge

A number of sightings have been reported over last few days

Porpoise by Barnes Railway Bridge
Porpoise by Barnes Railway Bridge. Picture: Jonathan Roos


Baby Harbour Porpoise Found Dead on Thames Foreshore

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Seal of Approval for the Thames

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What is believed to be a harbour porpoise has been spotted swimming in the Thames near Barnes Railway Bridge over the last few days.

It was seen most recently this Friday morning (2 April) across from the Chiswick Boathouse and was first observed from the Ship Pub in Mortlake on 30 March. In between these two times there have been a number of other reports made to the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

It is thought that the porpoise is not fully grown given its size.

Sightings of porpoises and dolphins on the Thames are not unusual but relatively rare this far up the river.

Since the beginning of lockdown there has been a marked increase in animal diversity on the Thames and it is believed that the fall in activity on the river could be encouraging more marine life to venture further up.

After a sighting of a baby porpoise this time last year, Julia Cable of the The British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) said, "Over the past few weeks we have had a couple of reports of cetaceans in the Thames, at the moment we don’t consider this to be anything unusual as harbour porpoise are often seen in the river. It is likely that with less traffic in the river the animals may venture further than they usually would, also with less disturbance on the water they will be easier to spot."

The BDMLR urge people not to disturb or harass any such creature which they observe on the Thames. There is a danger that the animal may be frightened further up the river, or in the worst case, to actually strand which is what happened to the baby porpoise seen last year.

Also interacting with them runs the risk of zoonotic disease transfer, which is the passing of contagious diseases between humans and dolphins. There are known cases in the UK where people have been infected by dolphins with pneumonia and meningoencephalitis, and disease transmission can work both ways.

Sightings can be reported online at ZSL’s Thames Marine Mammal Survey Site.

Dolphin in the Thames near Kew Bridge in 2017. Picture: Chiswick RNLI

Anyone who is concerned for the welfare of an animal should contact the RSPCA's 24-hour emergency hotline on 0300 1234 999 for help or advice. They should also be contacted if you see a dead animal.

Those with concerns regarding a specific marine animal can contact British Divers Marine Life Rescue directly on 01825 765546 or 07787 433412 (out of hours).

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April 2, 2021

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