With the pandemic receding Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey recently quipped ‘What next? A plague of locusts?’. Andrew Bailey what have you done? Sharks in the Thames, that’s what.
In proof that we’re now an unshockable nation, it will come as zero surprise to anyone reading this that there’s now actual sharks prowling the Thames. We’re gonna need a bigger Duck Boat…
It’s been 64 years since Old Father Thames was declared ‘biologically dead’. Since then a lot’s changed, and in 2020 the Zoological Society of London commissioned the State of the Thames Report report. And it’s findings are surprising. Y’know, coz sharks.
We're gonna need a bigger Duck Boat...
According to the study, seahorses, eels, seals and sharks are all living in the tidal Thames and more than 100 species of fish live in the 215 mile long river.
Sharks are using the Thames Estuary to give birth and nurse their young, and those found to be resident in the capital’s main waterway included tope, starry smooth-hound and spurdog. So not the bitey ones. But wannabe David Walliamses should still think twice before getting into the water.
Which all sounds like good news, seahorses are notoriously fussy creatures after all, but the report was downbeat in its outlook.
The river has been heating up year-on-year since the turn of the century by 0.19C per year.
The report was downbeat in its outlook...
The 95-mile stretch of tidal Thames (the bit nearest the sea) has suffered from rising nitrate levels because of industrial runoff and sewage discharges. Added to the effects of global warming things aren’t looking great.
The other issue plaguing the river that literally defines our lives (are you a south or the river or a north of the river person?) is plastics. The study found that the effects of plastics and discarded wet-wipes is causing havoc.
There’s a mound of wet wipes in Barnes which has swelled to a height of 1.4 metres since 2014 and now covers an area of 1,000 sq metres!
There's a mound of wet wipes in Barnes which has swelled to a height of 1.4 metres since 2014...
The report noted that “These products, many of which contain plastic, are physically altering the foreshore along the Thames by creating large mounds of sediment densely bound together”
Microplastics were discovered at a density of 19.5 plastics per cubic metre, and the report estimates that microplastics flow down the Thames at up to 94,000 pieces per second.
Putting a positive spin on things, ZSL’s Alison Debney told reporters “This report has enabled us to really look at how far the Thames has come on its journey to recovery since it was declared biologically dead, and in some cases, set baselines to build from in the future.”
The main takeaway here has to be SHARKS!
It’s also true that some of the issues affecting the river will be solved when the new super-sewer, the Thames Tideway tunnel, goes ‘live’ in 2025. The £3.9 billion project, the biggest sewer upgrade in over a century, will catch over 95% of current sewage spills that enter the river.
Still the main takeaway here has to be SHARKS!