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Thames whale remembered a decade on

PUBLISHED: 07:00 20 January 2016

Rescuers battle to save a 15ft northern bottle-nosed whale in the River Thames, London, on Saturday, January 21, 2006. (Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA)

Rescuers battle to save a 15ft northern bottle-nosed whale in the River Thames, London, on Saturday, January 21, 2006. (Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA)

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Ten years ago today, a whale briefly became the centre of attention as it travelled up the River Thames.

Millions watched on as live television pictures of the mammal’s rescue were broadcast around the world, while thousands more flocked to the riverbanks to catch a glimpse of the first whale in the Thames for nearly a century.

The whale – dubbed Wally by national media – was first spotted swimming upstream by a coastguard at the Thames Barrier and a passenger on the Woolwich Ferry.

And just like other visitors to London, it took in the sights of the capital, passing under Tower Bridge and by the Houses of Parliament before settling in Chelsea.

The UK director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Philip Mansbridge, said: “The public reaction to the Thames whale, both in the UK and around the world, was truly overwhelming and the sight of thousands of people of all ages lining the riverbank in central London has become part of modern history.”

Rescue workers eventually winched Wally onto a rescue barge and transported him downstream, back through Newham and into the Thames estuary.

Their efforts were in vain, though, as the whale died close to the release point in Margate.


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