32ft humpback whale that was spotted in River Thames died after being struck by ship, say experts

Rob Deaville from the Zoological Society of London revealed that Hessy has a 'large wound indicative of a ship strike'

32ft humpback whale that was spotted in River Thames died after being struck by ship, say experts
(Source : Getty Images)


Hessy, the humpback whale who died in the Thames, might have been hit by a boat.

The whale had perished on Tuesday near Greenhithe Kent and officials pulled the carcass out of the water using a crane on Wednesday morning, The Sun reports.

After the poor marine giant was hauled out of the water, a necropsy is being carried out by the London Zoological Society in a bid to establish the cause of death.

It took a team of three boats to hoist Hessy from the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge in Dartford to Gravesend, which is six miles away, according to the report.

The carcass was slowly moved along the river by the three boats who worked together to get it to the Port of London Authority's Denton Wharf.

The team took four hours to drag Hessy through the water owing to its size. They were able to move the whale only one and a half miles per hour.


Upon arrival at the wharf, Hessy was pulled out of the water and placed in the back of a massive lorry. Officials then proceeded to cover the body and took it for an autopsy.

"The animal looked to be in quite a good condition last night. There were no clear signs of it being hit by a boat," Martin Garside, of the Port of London Authority, said. "There were no obvious signs of damage, it was floating just under the water however so not all of the body was visible. It looked to be in good condition."

A decade ago, another humpback whale that entered the Thames reportedly died of starvation.

"The last whale was malnourished... It could be the case here that it was malnourishment but that is all speculative," Garside said. "It must have been hard for it to get the amount of food that it is used too in a busy river."

Before a detailed autopsy is conducted, the CSIP will carry out an initial assessment to confirm the deceased whale's weight, sex, and size.


As London Zoo was not suitable to carry out the tests for a whale the size of Hessy, experts were looking for a site large enough.

"Terribly sad news that soon after 5 pm today the humpback whale which had not been seen in the Thames all day was found dead around the Greenhithe area," The British Divers Marine Life Rescue tweeted yesterday. "Hopefully tomorrow a necropsy will be carried out to determine the cause of death #thameswhale #HumpbackWhale"

Meanwhile, Rob Deaville, manager of the Zoological Society of London's (ZSL) Cetacean Strandings Investigation Project, revealed Hessy has a "large wound indicative of a ship strike."

"From initial examinations, ZSL can confirm the humpback whale is a juvenile female and has a large wound indicative of a ship strike, but it is currently unknown whether this was inflicted before or after the whale's death," he said.


Share this article: 32ft humpback whale that was spotted in River Thames died after being struck by ship, say experts