Magazine article Geographical

Back from the Dead: Declared Biologically Dead in 1950s, the Thames Is Now Home to Hundreds of Species of Fish, Seals, Porpoises and More

Magazine article Geographical

Back from the Dead: Declared Biologically Dead in 1950s, the Thames Is Now Home to Hundreds of Species of Fish, Seals, Porpoises and More

Article excerpt

According to a ten-year marine mammal survey by the Zoological Society of London, there have been more than1,000 harbour seal (pictured below) sightings along the river Thames over the past decade, along with dozens of harbour porpoise sightings and even the occasional whale. 'People look at the Thames and see murky water,' says Sofia Castello y Tickell, co-author of the study, "but in fact, it is full of life ranging from invertebrates to fish and top predators such as seals.'

The tidal Thames had been used as the London's drainage system for centuries before it was declared biologically dead by the Natural History Museum in 1957. The waters around the most developed areas of the city had become anaerobic--devoid of oxygen and unable to sustain life. Following the introduction of tough legislation in the 1990s, the "big stink' began to make a biological comeback. Most harmful effluents are now prevented from entering the Thames and its tributaries, while sewage is treated and exported elsewhere. …

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