On Thursday 19th January 2006, an 16ft Northern Bottlenose Whale reportedly made its way up the River Thames and, for the following two days, headed towards the Battersea area. It was here that this poor London newcomer was stranded. In the final days of the Thames whale’s life, thousands of people crowded the banks of the river, watching hopefully as the BDMLR (British Divers Marine Life Rescue) attempted to rescue her.
Although the rescuers tried in vain to save the mammal’s life, the whale captivated the entire nation. Today, in order to commemorate the ill-fated creature, a memorial march is taking place. It begins at 5.30pm at the Natural History Museum and will make its way towards the Battersea beach park, where she died.
The march will be accompanied by the Whale Song Orchestra, who have composed a computer-generated lament to the whale. (It will be played from speakers carefully balanced on bicycles!) To this day, the bones of the Thames whale have stayed in London – The Sun newspaper ran a campaign to raise £10,000 in order to ensure the recovery of the skeleton. The complete skeleton was first put on display in 2007 at the Guardian and Observer Archive and Visitor Centre.