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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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Public urged to provide homes for swifts

News Story 1
 The RSPB is calling on the public to help provide new homes for swifts, as figures show the birds' numbers have fallen to less than half what they were 20 years ago.

Swifts arrive in the UK late April-May and can spend up to three months in the country. The RSPB attributes the birds’ decline to modern buildings, which lack the nooks and crannies they need to build nests.

While some house builders have agreed to integrate swift homes into new buildings, the RSPB believes more can be done to help this incredible bird. 'Just, 1,000 additional new nest boxes could make a difference’, the charity said.  

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News Shorts
Detection time for omeprazole reduced to 48 hours in racehorses

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has announced that the detection time for omeprazole has been reduced from 72 hours to 48 hours. This is effective from 1 February 2019.

Omeprazole can be prescribed for the management of gastric ulcers in racehorses; however, studies have recently become available that show no direct effect of omeprazole on performance.

Tim Morris, the Authority’s Director of Equine Science and Welfare, commented: “Medication control in horse racing is essential to allow treatment for good welfare but also to ensure fair racing by medication withdrawal before racing. Trainers have asked for more information, especially on anti-ulcer medications, and we have used existing information to make a harmonised detection time for omeprazole available as soon as we could.”