Dead humpback whale 'Hessy' was 'struck by ship' in tragic River Thames journey

Mirror Online 1 month ago

Hessy the humpback whale was struck by a ship during her tragic River Thames journey, experts believe.

A post-mortem is being held tonight at a private location to establish the exact cause of death.

Experts will hope to determine whether the possible ship strike occurred while Hessy was alive or after her death in the Thames.

Rob Deaville, manager of the Zoological Society of London's (ZSL) Cetacean Strandings Investigation Project said: "ZSL experts from the UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP) are working with colleagues from Port of London Authority to carry out the post-mortem of the deceased humpback whale that was found in the Thames near Greenhithe.

"From initial examinations ZSL can confirm the humpback whale is a juvenile female and has a large wound indicative of a ship strike, but it is currently unknown whether this was inflicted before or after the whale's death.

"ZSL's CSIP team will be carrying out the post-mortem this evening to learn more about the reasons for the whale's death and why it entered the Thames."

The giant humpback whale being lifted by crane from the Thames
 

It took a team of three boats to haul Hessy from the QEII Bridge in Dartford six miles to Gravesend.

Three boats worked together to slowly move the carcass along the river to the Port of London Authority's Denton Wharf.

Moving at one and a half miles an hour to drag Hessy through the water, it took he team four hours.

A humpback whale which entered the Thames 10 years ago is known to have died of starvation - while experts said Hessy was also displaying sign of malnourishment.

Rob Deaville continued: "Humpback whales are relatively infrequently recorded stranded around the UK coast, with an average of 1-2 year, although this is the fifth humpback whale to be recorded stranded in the UK so far this year by the CSIP.

The whale spotted between Crayford Ness and the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge in Dartford, Kent
Hessy being lifted from the water by a crane in Greenhithe, Kent
 

"Two other humpback whales have previously been recorded in the Thames and wider Thames estuary region, both of which unfortunately died - one on September 12, 2009 found under the QE2 Bridge and one found floating off Sheerness on 24th March 2013."

Martin Garside, of the Port of London Authority, was on the first boat dispatched to Hessy at about 6.30pm last night.

He said: "It was quite eery. I was lucky in a way to see such a beautiful creature.

"There I was standing so close to this magnificent creature, with the motorway traffic whizzing about above me.

"It was moving in really fast water. We were afraid of losing it so we called for assistance.

Hessy is thought to have been struck by a ship

"It took four hours at one and a half miles per hour. We had three boats involved, Easthaven, Kew and the RNLI. Kew dragged it.

"The whale is very big, it's at least ten metres long.

"Exact details about length and weight will come out in the next few days. A whale in the Thames is very rare "It was very big - it's at least ten metres long."


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