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#Science

Want to spot some seals in London? Go to Canary Wharf suggests ZSL survey

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According to new Zoological Society of London (ZSL) survey, results of which were revealed a couple of days back, seals, porpoises and whales are a common sight in the Thames Estuary with as many as 2,700 sightings in a decade.

The ZSL Thames Marine Mammal Sightings Survey (TMMSS), which launched in 2004, was designed to help conservationists develop a better understanding of how marine mammals use the Thames Estuary, in order to help conserve them.

According to the survey, harbour seals were some of the most commonly spotted mammals, with as many as 100 spotted in September 2014 at Greenwich and with more than 1,000 animals reported over the 10 year period.

“We were pleased to see that harbour seals were some of the most commonly spotted mammals”, said Joanna Barker, European Conservation Projects Manager at ZSL. “Their numbers have dramatically declined in some parts of Scotland, so the fact that they are frequently sighted in the Thames Estuary confirms that the South East is an important area for their conservation.”

Some of the other highlights of the report are:
More sightings were reported around Canary Wharf than any other area along the Thames Estuary
Many sightings were recorded in Central London, especially between the Houses of Parliament and the O2 Arena. Other sighting hotspots include Hammersmith, Southend-on-Sea and Cliffe
Seals were seen as far upstream as Hampton Court Palace, harbour porpoises and dolphins as far as Teddington Lock and whales as far as Gravesend
The majority of sightings lasted less than 2 minutes and were of marine mammals swimming
2013 saw the greatest number of sightings submitted (239 sightings)

The TMMSS aims to provide information on the presence and behaviour of pinnipeds (seals) and cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) in the Greater Thames Estuary. These data can be used to inform conservation measures and
planning applications, as well as raising awareness of the presence of marine mammals in the Greater Thames
Estuary.