RNLI spots rare royal fish by Dove Pier, Hammersmith

A dead porpoise was found in the Thames near Dove Pier last week.

The RNLI made the discovery after rescuing a capsized canoeist upriver from Hammersmith Bridge.

Volunteer lifeboat crew member Ella du Breuil, who works as a marine biologist, identified the mammal and confirmed it was a porpoise.

The species is classed as a royal fish under UK law, which means that they remain the property of the monarch. It also means that anyone who finds a dead porpoise must report it to the Receiver of Wrecks and Natural History Museum.

“We had just finished the rescue at Dove Pier and were coming back downriver when we saw the porpoise floating,” explained Andy Mayo, Chiswich RNLI lifeboat helmsman. “It was clearly deceased, which is obviously very sad. We explained what we had found to the Coastguard and they asked us to collect it and bring it back the station, as the body would need to be assessed.’

Porpoises live in all oceans, usually near the shore, which is why it’s rare to find one in the Thames. The Zoological Society of London has been officially recording sightings of marine mammals in the tidal Thames since 2004. According to their website, the last report of a porpoise in the Thames was in September 2010 when one was spotted just south of Westminster Bridge.