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Humpback whale found dead in the Thames was hit by a ship

Humpback whale found dead in the Thames had been hit by a ship

The humpback, nicknamed Hessy, was found dead in the Thames (Picture: Ferrari Press/PA/SWNS)

A humpback whale found dead in the Thames was hit by a ship, experts have said.

The juvenile female, nicknamed Hessy, was discovered in the Greenhithe area shortly after 5pm on Tuesday.

Rob Deaville, manager of ZSL’s UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP), said work was underway with colleagues from the Port of London Authority to carry out a post-mortem.

‘From initial examinations ZSL can confirm the humpback whale is a juvenile female and has a large wound indicative of a ship strike, but it is currently unknown whether this was inflicted before or after the whale’s death,’ he said.

‘ZSL’s CSIP team will be carrying out the post-mortem this evening to learn more about the reasons for the whale’s death and why it entered the Thames.’

Ferrari Press Agency. The body of humpback whale found in the Thames. Image shows injury caused by ship strike. Experts examin the carcass. Picture taken by Zoological Society London.

The huge humpback had been hit by a ship (Picture: Rob Deaville/ZSL)

BEST QUALITY AVAILABLEHandout photo taken with permission from the twitter feed of Richard Banner of a humpback whale that has been spotted in the Thames in an extremely rare London sighting. PA Photo. Issue date: Monday October 7, 2019. Sightings of the animal were reported over the weekend and its presence in the river was confirmed by British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) on Sunday. See PA story ENVIRONMENT Whale. Photo credit should read: Richard Banner/Twitter/PA WireNOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

Sightings of the animal were reported over the weekend (Picture: PA)

This is the moment a huge humpback whale surfaced -- in the River Thames. See SWNS story SWSYwhale. British Divers Marine Life Rescue said: "We observed the humpback whale in the Thames estuary for just just over 3 hours today (Sunday). "The whale was diving and surfacing at approximately five to six minute intervals, slowly moving down river with the outgoing tide.???

Hessy became the fifth humpback to become stranded in the UK so far this year (Picture: Shaun O’Riordan/SWNS)

Humpback whales are rarely stranded around the UK coast, with just one or two recorded on average each year.

However, this is the fifth humpback to be recorded stranded in the UK so far this year.

Two other humpback whales which have previously been recorded in the Thames and wider Thames estuary region, in 2009 and 2013 – both died.

Hessy was towed late at night from below the QE2 Bridge to a Port of London Authority facility at Gravesend.

‘It is incredibly sad – I was literally two feet from this dead whale,’ said Martin Garside, a spokesman for the Port of London authority who helped tow the juvenile.

‘It was both poignant and a bit eerie really – road traffic was thundering overhead on the busiest motorway in Britain and oblivious to all the people in the cars and lorries there was a 10-metre long beautiful whale floating dead beneath them.’

She was so big the patrol boats struggled to tow her, he added.

‘It was bigger than the patrol boat I was in, no doubt about it, and it was getting on for the length of the bigger patrol boat so I would say minimum 10 metres,’ Mr Garside said.

‘We have done our best to preserve it and we will hand the whale over to the scientists to carry out a full investigation – an autopsy for want of a better word.’

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