Kingston: Sharks revealed to be living in the river Thames

By Ellie Brown - Local Democracy Reporter

10th Nov 2021 | Local News

SHARKS and seahorses are among the unusual creatures which live in the Tidal Thames, according to a new report checking the health of the river's ecosystem.

Species of shark including tope, starry smooth hound and spurdog, can be found in the river, along with short-nosed seahorses and eels.

Seals are another 'unusual' creature of the Thames but this won't surprise Kingston readers as grey and harbour seals have been known to swim near here in recent years.

The findings come as part of the first ever 'State of the Thames' survey by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

Coming 60 years after the river was declared biologically 'dead', the survey shows that passionate conservation efforts since that ruling have had some success.

A number of new species are thriving in the river thanks to improved conditions including better water quality and lower concentrations of harmful elements including phosphorus.

But there is still work to do, as the study shows water levels and temperatures are rising due to climate change.

Nitrate levels are also on the up, posing a danger to wildlife, due to industrial and sewage waste being dumped in the river.

Other chemicals of concern are not being regularly monitored, with potentially harmful impacts on nature.

Liz Wood-Griffiths, Head of Consents at Tideway said: "This report comes at a critical time and highlights the urgent need for the Thames Tideway Tunnel, known as London's new super sewer.

"The new sewer, which is due to be complete in 2025, is designed to capture more than 95 per cent of the sewage spills that enter the River from London's Victorian sewer system.

"It will have a significant impact on the water quality, making it a much healthier environment for wildlife to survive and flourish."

James Brand, Thames Estuary 2100 Advisor at the Environment Agency said: "We are pleased to support the State of the Thames Report published today.

"If we are going to tackle the climate emergency, nature needs to be at the heart of our solution, both in slowing the pace of future change and adapting to the changes that we are already seeing.

"The Environment Agency is committed to reaching net zero by 2030 and improving water quality in our rivers.

The Thames Estuary 2100 Plan advocates adapting to rising sea levels by thinking holistically about our riversides, incorporating new wildlife habitat, and other environmental improvements as we work in partnership to upgrade flood defences."

The report provides useful evidence about the ways the 215-mile Thames is used, and the importance of the river for local people and the millions of visitors that come to London each year.

It also features the first ever indicator for plastic pollution in the Thames, creating a baseline for scientists to work from and monitor as the years go on.

The Tidal Thames has over 115 species of fish, 92 species of bird and has almost 600 hectares of saltmarsh which is a crucial habitat for a range of wildlife.

For the nine million people living alongside it, it also provides drinking water, food, livelihoods, and protection from coastal flooding.

Read more and find the full report HERE.

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