October 9, 2019 / 8:42 AM / 5 days ago

Humpback whale found dead in River Thames east of London

LONDON, Oct 9 (Reuters) - A 10 metre (33-ft) humpback whale spotted in the River Thames earlier this week has been found dead just east of London and will now be handed over to scientists for an autopsy.

The whale was found dead in shallow water at Greenhithe in Kent on Tuesday and 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 whale.

“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.”

The whale was so large that the patrol boats struggled to tow it.

“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,” Garside said.

The Zoological Society of London has a Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme which will investigate the causes of death.

“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,” Garside said. (Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, editing by Estelle Shirbon)

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