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Tower Bridge Exhibition

Creatures of the River Thames

17th August 2017 • Tower Bridge Blog

Creatures of the River Thames

In 1957, the River Thames was so dirty that it was declared "biologically extinct", with no living organism able to survive in it. Thankfully it’s now a lot cleaner and, along with an estimated 125 species of fish, it also has some more unexpected residents!

Dolphin and porpoise

Dolphins and porpoise have been seen in the Thames as far up as Tower Bridge but are more commonly seen around Canary Wharf. Between 2005 and 2015, an amazing 444 dolphins and porpoise sightings were reported to London Zoo so keep a look out when you’re by the river!


Seals are another animal you wouldn’t expect to see in the River Thames but they apparently like the shelter it offers – maybe it’s their holiday from rough waters of the North Sea! Seals are the most commonly spotted mammal in the Thames and can often be seen around Westminster Bridge.


Much harder to spot that dolphins and seals unfortunately, but their presence in the Thames shows just how clean the water is – they’re extremely picky about cleanliness. Seahorses are quite hard to find but it’s thought that a potential colony may live in Greenwich.


You’re extremely unlikely to spot a whale in the Thames but in 2006 a lost northern bottlenose whale found itself swimming up the river. The whale received nationwide media interest and caused the closure of the River Thames to river traffic as part of the rescue effort. Unfortunately the whale became distressed and did not survive.

The Totally Thames festival celebrates the River Thames every September with lots of events across different sites. Tower Bridge takes part each year, hosting concerts inside the atmospheric bascule chambers, deep inside the bridge. For more information on these concerts, please click here

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