What went right: sharks in the River Thames, plus more positive news

The Thames was home to sharks, seals, and seahorses.

More than half a century after it was declared “biologically dead”, the River Thames in London has seals, seahorses and even sharks living in it, a study revealed this week.

The State of the Thames report – compiled by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) – noted a significant improvement in water quality since the 1960s, when The Kinks sang about the “dirty old river” in Waterloo Sunset. It also reported an increase of fish, including tope, starry hound, and spurdog sharks. 

It’s a remarkable turnaround for the waterway that has been the focus of conservation efforts. The report was not without its challenges. It was clear that climate change is increasing water temperature by 0.2C per year, which could have serious consequences for marine life. 

What’s more, pollution from sewage spills are also on the rise. London’s new ‘super sewer’ – due to come online in 2025 – should help fix that. ZSL is also creating seagrass and saltmarsh habitats in order to increase biodiversity. 

“These not only help to restore wildlife in the river, but also act as natural flood defences,” said ZSL’s Alison Debney.

Image: ZSL