Dolphins spotted again in Thames as RNLI lifeboat crew reports 'calf with two adults'

Dolphins have been spotted again in the River Thames - this time a baby and two adults - who were captured on video by delighted RNLI volunteers.

The latest sighting, in Northfleet in Kent, came after numerous Londoners reported spotting a podswimming as far inland as Canary Wharf last week.

Gravesend’s lifeboat was returning to its station around midday on Sunday following a callout when its crew was surprised to see three dolphins swimming towards them, heading for London.

“It was an incredible sight,” said crew member John Robinson. “We spotted the dolphin-like fins at first.

“There were two adults and a calf. They were approximately two metres in length - incredible to witness right here on the River Thames, especially when they were jumping out of the water.”

Footage captured by the crew shows the dolphins breaching the river’s surface near the lifeboat.

An image captured by the Gravesend RNLI crew on Sunday (RNLI)
An image captured by the Gravesend RNLI crew on Sunday (RNLI)

Gravesend RNLI Station Manager Ian Smith added: “We often see seals whilst out on the lifeboat, but porpoises and dolphins are definitely on the rarer side of marine mammals we spot.”

The tidal Thames is home to internationally significant numbers of migratory and overwintering birds, 125 species of fish and marine and terrestrial mammals, and a wide variety of plant species.

Last week, many sightings of dolphins were reported in east London, primarily around Canary Wharf, Greenwich, and near the Thames Barrier.

One man reported seeing “around six to eight” dolphins as he returned home from the gym at Canary Wharf on Wednesday.

The same day, a resident named Rupanjana posted a video, captured from their flat near Canary Wharf, that showed the pod jumping out of the water.

Dolphins - believed to be the same pod - were also spotted by the Thames Barrier and in the river at Greenwich on Monday.

The RSPCA urged people to “behave considerately” around the animals.

“We are aware of these dolphins and really appreciate that people want to make sure they're safe,” said a spokesperson. “We are ready to provide appropriate assistance if requested.

“It is not unusual for dolphins to find their way into harbours or rivers such as the Thames and they have been known to travel inland quite some distance. They are usually just looking for more food and generally they find their way out to sea again.

“We ask the public to do their bit and behave considerately to the dolphins. It’s important that disturbance is kept to a minimum, to maximise the chances of them returning to the open sea under their own steam.”

A spokesperson for British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) said it understands the dolphins have been leaving the Thames as the tide goes out.

“We have been aware of the dolphin sightings in the Thames and while it's not an everyday occurrence, dolphins and porpoises do venture up the estuary usually following food and can make it as far as Canary Wharf which is where they were seen this week,” said a spokesperson on Friday.

“On both occasions this week the dolphins have left the river on the falling tide which is to be expected.

“There have been some recent sightings of a pod of dolphins in the River Medway, so it's likely that these are the same animals.

“The main risk for dolphins in the Thames is river traffic, the large vessels shouldn't pose too much of a risk for them, but smaller boats can be a problem.”