Dead Whale Washes Up At Battersea Bridge

Experts are unsure why its body ended up in Wandsworth

Photo: Gareth Mottram

December 3, 2019

A dead whale which washed up onto the shore at Battersea Bridge last weekend is believed to be of the ‘minke’ species according to the Port of London Authority (PLA). A patrol boat discovered the whale late on Friday evening (November 30th) following reports of sightings earlier in the day, but it is not yet known why the mammal died and why its body was washed so far upstream.

The PLA is responsible for all navigational safety on the Thames and was in charge of dealing with its lifeless body. Marine diving experts assisted in the removal of the whale which now goes to London Zoo for a post-mortem.

It is the third whale to have been found dead in the Thames this autumn. According to the PLA: “A whale is very unusual in the River Thames – however we have now had three in the last two months.” In October a dead sei whale was found at Gravesend and a humpback was washed up at Greenhithe.

Photo: Gareth Mottram

According to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation minke whales are comparatively fast swimmers which are found in oceans all over the world, although they tend to prefer cooler temperatures.

Perhaps the most famous ‘Thames Whale’ was the young northern bottlenose whale which was discovered swimming in the river in February 2006, having lost her way from the North Sea. Experts from the PLA attempted to deliberately beach the whale on a sandbank near Albert Bridge, from where they hoped to move her out of the Thames and back into the sea. Crowds lined the banks and bridges at Wandsworth and Battersea but, despite the huge rescue attempt, the whale died shortly after from convulsions.