Contributing Monkie Sarah Backhouse
Published on January 1, 2009
When you think of the Thames, a Turner painting might come to mind or Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows or, for a slightly more modern reference, the iconic titles of the BBC’s Eastenders or the opening boat chase in The World is Not Enough. What you don’t necessarily think of are…seahorses.
However, it’s been announced that short-snouted seahorses “have set up residence in the recovering River Thames”. The once heavily polluted river is now much cleaner, thanks to several rehabilitation efforts stretching back to the 1950s. “The discovery of the animal in brackish tidal waters as far upriver as London was kept under wraps by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) until the species had been granted protected status,” says National Geographichttp://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/04/080407-seahorse-photo.html. Conservationists didn’t want news of the discovery to leak out for fear of drawing attention from “aquarium-trade collectors”. Wow, who knew there was a black market in seahorses?
According to Alison Shaw of ZSL, the appearance of seahorses can be attributed to a number of factors including warmer sea temperatures due to global warming, which has caused plankton to increase. As well as seahorses, seals, salmon and sea lampreys have also been spotted splashing in the Thames, proving that London’s landmark waterway is not just a tourist attraction but a bona fide wildlife habitat.