Common dolphin in upper Thames
British Divers Marine Life Rescue media release
As has been reported widely via the internet, there is currently a lone common dolphin in the upper reaches of the tidal Thames.
Solitary dolphins are not uncommon around the UK coast and occasionally they will swim up rivers further inland. When this happens, their welfare can be threatened as people who are not used to seeing a marine animal may inadvertently cause it stress.
Human interactions with wild dolphins may also break the law as it is illegal to disturb or harass dolphins in UK waters – in recent years this has resulted in criminal conviction of people who were seen harassing a dolphin off the coast. There is also the danger that the animal may be frightened further up the river, or in the worst case, to actually strand.
Given the threat of harm posed to this solitary dolphin in London, as well as to the people interacting with it, BDMLR is urging people not to enter the water with it or to approach it on any form of craft, powered or otherwise. We appreciate how unusual and exciting it is to have the opportunity to see these beautiful creatures from our shores, but please do watch this one responsibly from land.
Interacting with dolphins also runs the risk of zoonotic disease transfer, which is the passing of contagious diseases between humans and dolphins. There are known cases in the UK where people have been infected by dolphins with pneumonia and meningoencephalitis, and disease transmission can work both ways.
We would rather not have to rescue this dolphin, or herd it back out to sea as it would be less stressful for it to make its own way back out to open waters. It is being monitored and we, along with the RSPCA, PLA, ZSL and police will take whatever action is necessary to ensure its safety.
Here are three actions you can take to help protect this dolphin:
- If you want to see the dolphin, please don’t get in the water with it – instead, watch the dolphin from land.
- Share this information to help educate people about responsible dolphin watching and to discourage individuals from getting in the water with the dolphin;
- Please report any incidents of disturbance of the dolphin via our hotline on 01825 765545 or to the police.
Editor Notes. BDMLR does not have any footage or photos of this dolphin that we can share.