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LONDON, England (AP) -- A whale swam up the River Thames past Parliament and Big Ben in central London on Friday, then beached itself.


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The whale was a Northern bottlenose, said Richard Sabian, a zoologist at the Natural History Museum in London, who went to the scene.


"I can confirm reports that it is a whale," he said, as television networks provided live coverage.


Sabian said such whales rarely swim in the nearby English Channel and this was the first sighting of one in the River Thames since the museum began recording them in 1913.


The British Divers Marine Life Rescue group said it would help the whale if it became stranded. At one point the whale appeared to get stuck in shallow water in the River Thames, and officials wearing yellow jackets could be seen running up and down the shoreline at low tide trying to push it back into deeper water.


Witnesses, including people riding in boats and walking along the banks of the river, first spotted the whale near Parliament and said it appeared to be 20 feet long.


"I saw it blow. It was a spout of water which sparkled in the air," said Tom Howard-Vyne, a spokesman for London Eye, the large Ferris wheel on the banks of the river. "It was an amazing sight."


He said he saw the mammal swim under Westminster Bridge near Big Ben.


Television showed a police boat alongside the whale, apparently to shield it from other shipping in the river.


The Northern bottlenose whale is found in the North Atlantic and is known for readily approaching boats. It can reach nearly 30 feet in length and weigh nearly 8 tons.


Created: 1/20/2006 10:18:50 AM

Updated: 1/20/2006 10:20:43 AM

? 2004-2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten, or redistributed.




* http://www.sky.com/skynews/picture_gallery...1209852,00.html

* http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_pictures/4632194.stm

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Yeah, poor old thing.


It would have been very ill to go up there in the first place, as not many creatures would go up the Thames on purpose, especially one of that size.


The Thames isn't as polluted as it was, and there probably are enough fish to keep it happy, but all the boats and the like would really screw the poor thing up.

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sad.gifWhale died from 'multiple causes'

A post-mortem examination on the whale which became stranded in the River Thames showed it died from dehydration, muscle damage and failing kidneys.

They said it may have been trying to head west to the Atlantic Ocean where it could feed on deep sea squid, but made a wrong turning, ending up near Chelsea Bridge in the heart of London.

Dr Jepson dismissed speculation that the whale's death was caused by anti-submarine sonar from Navy vessels.

- Following worldwide coverage of the story, the British Divers Marine Life Rescue group, the small charity behind the rescue operation has received more than ?10,000 in donations.


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