More than half a century after it was declared “biologically dead”, the River Thames in London has seals, seahorses and even sharks living in it, a study revealed this week.
The State of the Thames report – compiled by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) – noted a significant improvement in water quality since the 1960s, when The Kinks sang about the “dirty old river” in Waterloo Sunset. It also reported an increase in the presence of birds, mammals and fish, including tope, starry smooth hound and spurdog sharks.
It is a remarkable turnaround for the waterway, which has been the subject of conservation efforts. However, the report was bittersweet. It found that climate change is increasing the water temperature by 0.2C annually, with likely consequences for marine life.
What’s more, pollution from sewage spills are also on the rise. London’s new ‘super sewer’ – due to come online in 2025 – should help fix that. Meanwhile, ZSL is creating seagrass and saltmarsh habitats to further boost biodiversity.
“These not only help to restore wildlife in the river, but also act as natural flood defences,” said ZSL’s Alison Debney.