A report which was led by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) has said that River Thames is home to sharks and seahorses and is “rich and varied” with wildlife.
Sixty years ago parts of the Thames was declared “biologically dead” and it is important to reverse the threat from pollution and climate change.
In 2017 in Greenwhich a short snouted seahorse was found to be living in the river which “indicates that the tidal Thames is a recovering estuarine ecosystem.”
The report found that a type of shark has been found which is known as a smooth hound and evidence in the first ever State report of the River Thames said it is a “breeding ground and nursery habitat for fish,” including European seabass.
The report added, “the influences of climate change are clearly impacting the tidal Thames, as both water temperature and sea levels continue to rise above historic baselines.”
The temperature in the summer months, on average, in the upper tidal area of the river has increased by 0.19C each year which will “undoubtedly affect the estuary’s wildlife, leading to changes in life-history patterns and species ranges.”
The report highlighted that since 1957 the “Investment in infrastructure has led to great improvements in the water quality of the tidal Thames.
“As a result, it once again provides a rich and varied habitat to an abundance of wildlife, and many benefits to people.”
Alison Debney, ZSL conservation programme lead for wetland ecosystem recovery said, “The Thames estuary and its associated ‘blue carbon’ habitats are critically important in our fight to mitigate climate change and build a strong and resilient future for nature and people.
“This report has enabled us to really look at how far the Thames has come on its journey to recovery since it was declared biologically dead, and in some cases set baselines to build from in the future.”
James Brand, from the Environment Agency, said they are “committed to reaching net-zero by 2030 and improving water quality in our rivers”.
He added, “The Thames Estuary 2100 Plan advocates adapting to rising sea levels by thinking holistically about our riversides, incorporating new wildlife habitat and other environmental improvements as we work in partnership to upgrade flood defences.”