Beluga whale sighting in Thames estuary

A beluga whale has been sighted swimming in the Thames estuary near Coalhouse Fort in Essex.

The whale was first seen and filmed this morning. Beluga whales are easily identified by their distinctive white markings. While porpoises and dolphins are occasionally seen in the river, sightings of other species are rare.

Beluga whales inhabit cold, arctic waters off Greenland, Svalbard and in the Barents Sea. There have only been around 20 sightings of beluga whales off the UK coast previously but these have occurred off Northumberland, Northern Ireland and Scotland.