Home » Posts tagged 'Thames Estuary'

Tag Archives: Thames Estuary

Thames Sailing Barge Parade and Open Day in West India Docks – 17th and 18th September 2016


It is a great time for nostalgia on the Thames with Tall Ships floating past the Island and one of the biggest parades of Thames Sailing Barges seen for a long time in London over the weekend.


Lined up in West India Dock is around ten Thames Sailing Barges which at around 3.30pm on Saturday will form a parade and make their way onto the Thames and sail up to Tower Bridge.The Barges going under the raised Tower Bridge will be a wonderful sight and reminder  of when hundreds of the barges would sail into The City of London to pick up and discharge cargo.


The Thames sailing barge was the name given to a type of working sailing  boat common on the Thames in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The flat-bottomed barges were perfectly adapted to working in the Thames Estuary and beyond. Some worked along the coast and even went to continental European ports.


They carried many different cargoes, but often transported bricks, sand, coal and grain. Due to the efficiency of a Thames barge’s design, they only needed a crew of two for most journeys. Known as one of the ‘workhorses’ of the Industrial Revolution, in their heyday there were thousands of Thames Sailing Barges but it is now estimated that there are less than one hundred.


If you would like to see the Barges close up, on Sunday 18th September there will be a Sailing Barge Open Day at West India Dock. The Barge area will become a Popup Museum, open free to the public.


Shoreside activities at West India Dock include full access to the partaking barges so the public can learn of the barges history as well as meet and mingle with barge owners and crew members,.

Seal and Porpoise Watching around the Isle of Dogs


Over the last 400 years, there have been many reports of marine mammals coming up the Thames. Unfortunately in less enlightened times they were often attacked and killed.
A recent visit of a survey vessel to Wapping offers the intriguing suggestion that porpoises and other marine mammals are far more common in the Thames than people suspect. The RV Song of the Whale is 21 metre long vessel with specialised listening and recording equipment which recently spent several days checking numbers of the population of porpoises in the river’s tidal stretch.


Research into porpoises in the Thames is being undertaken by Marine Conservation Research International (MCR) in partnership with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and local interest groups.

A visit to the Marine Conservation Research website gives plenty of information about the study and other information about mammal species in the tidal Thames.
One section of particular interest was related to public sightings, the  ZSL has been collecting public sightings in the Thames of marine mammals since 2004. In that time they have registered 92 harbour seals, 377 grey seals, 231 harbour porpoises and 11 dolphins in the Thames Estuary.


Sightings between 2012 – 2014

According to their map, looking around the Isle of Dogs, there seem to be a large number of seal sightings but also a smaller number of porpoises and dolphins. These sightings are not just in the river but in the docks as well. But as many people who live on the Island know, we have a resident seal called Sammy that lives at Billingsgate Fish market who is often seen around the docks.


Sammy ( the local Seal celebrity )

In the past two weeks, I have had sightings of seals on the Blackwall and Limehouse stretches which suggests that there are far more seals than we think around the Isle of Dogs or our friend from Billingsgate market gets around the Island more than we suspect.

Hopefully the survey will give us a clearer picture of the marine mammal population and confirm that the Thames is attracting more marine mammals further up the river.

If you have any sightings, add them to the ZSL public sightings here .