London SE1 website team

Thames whale: how man on Hungerford Bridge sparked rescue

A commuter on board a train on Hungerford Bridge informed astonished marine experts that there was a whale in the river.

The man phoned British Divers Marine Life Rescue to say "Unless I'm hallucinating, I've just seen a whale swimming up the Thames, by Waterloo Bridge" at 8.30am on Friday morning – thus sparking a two-day rescue effort.

The whale got as far upstream as Battersea, where the whale was lifted out of the water by rescuers on Saturday.

At about 3.30pm on Saturday the MV Crossness – the barge carrying the whale on its ill-fated journey out to the Thames Estuary – passed under London Bridge. Reports says that some spectators on the bridge were in tears.

The excitement caused by the whale this weekend is nothing new: one of the earliest recorded whale sightings in the capital is from 1240 when "a monster of prodigious size" was spotted beneath London Bridge "to the amusement and excitement of the populus". It was apparently chased upriver by soldiers who killed it.

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