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Concern over beluga whale sighting in the Thames
Beluga whales normally inhabit the Arctic Ocean and can be identified by their distinctive white markings.

Public urged to stay away from the mammal to prevent distress

Conservationists have raised concern over a rare beluga whale spotted in the River Thames.  

The whale, nicknamed Benny, was first seen on Tuesday (25 September) near Coalhouse Fort, Essex. Boat owners and members of the public were urged to stay away from the area to prevent the animal getting into distress.

Unconfirmed footage of the whale was posted to social media on Wednesday morning (26 September) and a team of rescue workers have been sent to the area to assess its condition.

Speaking to the Guardian, Samantha Lipman from British Divers Marine Life Rescue said she is concerned the whale could swim up the river towards central London.

“The further up you go, the busier the river is,” she said. “A sighting will attract more traffic so we are really urging people to watch from shore if it is around.”

She added that the charity would only consider trying to rescue the whale if got into distress.

“We can try to herd the animal out to sea with boats or helicopters but that is quite an extreme and risky measure and we don’t want to do more harm than good,” she said.

For the time being, the charity said it will continue to monitor the whale and will step in if its condition starts to deteriorate.

Beluga whales normally inhabit the Arctic Ocean and can be identified by their distinctive white markings.

According to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, there have only been about 20 sighting of beluga whales off the coast of the UK. However, these have occurred off Scotland, Northern Ireland and Northumberland. 

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Endangered turtles rescued from smugglers

News Story 1
 A group of endangered turtles have found a new home at London Zoo after being rescued from smugglers.

The four big-headed turtles arrived at the zoo at the end of last year, after smugglers tried to illegally import them to Canada, labelled as toys.

One of the turtles, named Lady Triệu after a Vietnamese warrioress, has moved to a new exhibit in the zoo’s reptile house. She is the only one of her kind in a UK zoo.

Big-headed turtles have such large heads that they cannot pull them back into their shells. To compensate, they have armour plating from head to tail and a very sharp beak to fend off predators. They are ranked number 18 on ZSL’s EDGE of Existence reptile list, which puts threatened species at the forefront of conservation action. Image © ZSL  

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RCVS Fellowship board chair elections get underway

Voting for the 2019 RCVS Fellowship Chair election is now underway. This year four candidates are standing for election, including Dr Robert Huey, Professor John Innes, Professor Liz Mossop and Professor Ian Ramsey.

The Chair will attend and preside over Fellowship meetings and take the lead in consolidating the Fellowship’s position as the learned society of the RCVS. Fellows will receive an email containing a link to the online voting form, as well as candidates’ details and manifestos. Voting closes at 5pm on Thursday, 5 September.