A Beluga whale has been spotted in the Thames in Kent - video

25 September 2018, 15:06 | Updated: 25 September 2018, 15:52

By Tom Eames

A Beluga whale has been spotted in the River Thames, just off Gravesend.

Marine life experts have confirmed that it is indeed a Beluga whale, after first being spotted by ecologist and ornithologist Dave Andrews.

Andrews said it had been feeding around the barges near Gravesend. The British Divers Marine Life Rescue said the whale was "swimming strongly".

Spokeswoman Julia Cable has urged for the the public to not get too close to the whale, and "to watch it from the shore".

A Beluga whale was last spotted in the UK in 2015 off the coast of Northumberland, and sightings are said to be "extremely rare".

Cable added that hopefully the whale will swim back out to sea, and not travel the other way up the Thames.

In 2006, an 18ft (5m) northern bottle-nosed whale sadly died after becoming stranded in the Thames.

What is a Beluga whale?

Beluga Whale
Picture: Getty/Twitter/Dave Andrews

The Beluga whale is a marine mammal, and is also commonly referred to as the melonhead, sea canary, or canary whale due to its high-pitched noises.

It has adapted to life in the Arctic, and is distinctive for its all-white colour and for not having a dorsal fin.

The Beluga's body size is between that of a dolphin's and a true whale's, with males growing up to 5.5 m (18 ft) long and weighing up to 1,600 kg (3,530 lb).

The majority of Belugas live in the Arctic Ocean, and the seas and coasts around North America, Russia and Greenland. Their worldwide population is thought to be around 150,000. So, to find one in the UK is very rare!