Thames dolphin found dead after washing up on riverbank

8 November 2017, 20:36

A dolphin spotted swimming through the River Thames has died, as mystery continues to surround how it came to be in fresh water.

The two-metre long dolphin was first spotted in the waters of the London river on 30 October, and had been seen on several occasions through the capital.

But police reported the animal's body had been washed up to shore at Wandsworth, on the southern bank of the river, on Tuesday.

In a tweet, officers wrote: "Sad to tell you that a dead Common #Dolphin was washed up on the foreshore at Wandsworth yesterday.

"Our friends at @ZSLMarine will carry out tests to determine why it was in fresh water.

"There may be others so keep an eye out and report any sightings."

Robert Deaville, from the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme for the Zoological Society of London, said some of the photos of the dolphin circulating on social media appeared to show it had become caught in a "man-made linear object".

The early findings of a post-mortem investigation show the dolphin was undernourished, probably relatively aged and missing some of its teeth.

The report also showed its stomach was contracted, indicating it might not have been able to find food in the river. Impression marks around its torso may have been caused by contact with a floating line.

Further tests will establish if the dolphin had an infection, and will help determine cause of death.

Mr Deaville said: "We have been doing this work for 27 years and we have only ever had 12 common dolphin strandings on the east coast.

"However it came to be in the Thames, it's an unusual occasion."

Although there have been no further dolphin sightings, Mr Deaville has not ruled out that more than one dolphin may have travelled into the Thames.