As reported here, a beluga whale was recently spotted in the River Thames near Gravesend in Kent. He now has a name, Benny, as he continues his journey in the river. Hundreds of spectators have been lining the river, excited to catch a video clip of the famous whale.

While they are excited to see Benny, the Independent points out that his existence in the river is a sight of what is happening to the planet on a global scale.

Sadness as a beluga whale gets trapped in the Thames

Yes, it is fun to watch from the banks and finally get a glimpse of Benny the beluga.

Even researchers enjoy the spectacle but feel equally sad to see the whale in such an unusual spot. Ecologist Samuel Turvey said that when something like Benny turns up on your doorstep, it adds a different kind of urgency to the problems with marine life in the world.

In his work, Turvey has tracked other marine animals which have since died out and become extinct. He is hoping the existence of Benny in the River Thames will go on to spur more widespread concern about the plight of dolphins and whales. Turvey was tracking a famous dolphin in the Yangtze River until it disappeared.

He and other ecologists and animal activists are aware of other whales that have been wiped from existence in similar circumstances. They fear Benny could end up facing the same fate.

Benny is so far happily eating food that he has found in the river, but experts point out that the Thames is badly polluted.

Some worry about the existence of plastic bags in the river, which the beluga could ingest. Also, if the food he is finding now disappears, he could face an awful fate. There is also the threat of the boats and ships that traverse the Thames.

Whale watchers enjoying the spectacle

According to a report by Kent Online yesterday, this is now going into the fifth day Benny the beluga whale has been in the Thames.

Whale watchers line the river, including one person who has erected a tent to ensure he doesn’t miss out if Benny appears.

Sarah Knight, a spokeswoman for the Gravesham Borough Council, enjoys the fact they are getting so many visitors in the area due to the presence of the beluga whale. While she says it is hard to determine how business has improved due to Benny’s visit, she says the pubs there are doing well.

Knight went on to say they welcome visitors to Gravesend and she hopes they will stay in the local B&Bs and hotels and enjoy meals in their local restaurants.

However, while enjoying the presence of more visitors, she does urge them to follow the advice of local authorities and stay away from the water. She closed by saying she hopes Benny stays in good health and eventually finds his way back home.

Volunteers watching Benny in case rescue is needed

Ecologists are now hoping Benny will eventually find his way back home, but he is far away from his normal Arctic environment, which they note is currently in meltdown.

British Divers Marine Life Rescue has volunteers on the river in a small boat, keeping an eye on the beluga in case something really serious happens and the whale requires rescue. The chairman of the organisation, Alan Knight, was there when a whale got stuck in the river over a decade ago. That whale, unfortunately, died despite the efforts of their trained divers.