Whale spotted in Thames in Central London

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A 20ft long whale has been spotted swimming around in the Thames not far from the Houses of Commons in Central London.

The mammal is believed to be a Pilot whale and was first spotted yesterday, but not officially confirmed until this morning.

Tom Howard-Vyne, who is the Head of Communications at the BA London Eye, told The Telegraph that he saw the whale on the opposite bank of the river: "I saw it blow, it was a spout of water which sparkled in the air...""I saw it blow, it was a spout of water which sparkled in the air", he told the paper. "It was on this side of Westminster Bridge and 10 minutes ago it was near the Houses of Commons."

"I think it's being looked after by a lifeboat to make sure it doesn't get disturbed by the shipping in the river. It was an amazing sight."

RNLIThe BBC reports that the Royal National Lifeboat Institution has sent a lifeboat out to the Thames to check on the condition of the whale.

Liz Sandeman, from the whale and dolphin protection group Marine Connection accompanied the RNLI and examined the animal.

She was reported as saying: "It looks quite healthy and quite relaxed. It's breathing normally and its weight seems good."

Sandeman told the BBC that boats in the river could pose a risk to the whale.

"There's also the noise that could affect it. The Thames is extremely busy. The last thing we want to do is stress the animal out.

"Some people think it has losts its way or is not feeding well, but it's very hard to say why it is here."

Pilot whalesRecords from the UK Whale and Dolphin Stranding Scheme, which is operated by the Natural History Museum in London show that the Long-finned Pilot whale, Globiocephala melas, has been recorded stranded in England over a dozen times since 1998.

The records show that most specimens have been found on the beaches of Devon and Cornwall, but there are also recorded beachings in Dorset.

A second species of Pilot whale, the Short-finned Pilot whale, Globiocephala macrorhynchus may also occur in UK waters. The two are hard to tell apart at sea.

Maps interpreted from Sea Watch Foundation data and knowledge of the ecology of the species from Evans 1998 produced by the Convention on Migratory show that G. melas is absent or rarely seen on this side of the UK. It is more commonly seen along the Devon and Cornwall coast and off the west coast of Ireland.

UPDATE Later reports state that the whale is a Northern bottle-nosed whale.

Have you seen the whale?Have you seen the whale? Send your pictures and sightings to [email protected]