Tope sharks now live in the Thames in London

Sharks have made the Thames their home thanks to an extraordinary conservation effort that has brought the capital’s river back from the brink.

The Thames was declared “biologically dead” in 1957 due to extreme levels of pollution, but is now teeming with life after more than 60 years of environmental work.

The Tide Thames supports over 115 fish species – including tops, starry smooth dog and spore sharks – 92 bird species and has almost 600 hectares of salt marsh, which is a vital habitat for a number of wildlife.

Tope sharks can grow up to 6 feet long and live 50 years, while tracking dogs release venom from their fins.

Other surprising species that live in the Thames include seahorses, eels and seals.

The extraordinary turnaround was revealed in the first State of the Thames Report ever by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), the first complete health check of the river.

Other surprising species that live in the Thames include seahorses, eels and seals

(ZSL)

ZSL Conservation Program Head of Wetland Recovery Ecosystems, Alison Debney said: “Estuaries are one of our neglected and endangered ecosystems.

“They provide us with clean water, protection against floods and are an important nursery for fish and other wildlife.

“The Thames estuary and its associated ‘blue carbon’ habitats are crucial in our fight to mitigate climate change and build a strong and resilient future for nature and humans.

“This report has allowed us to really look at how far the Thames has come on its journey to recovery since it was declared biologically dead, and in some cases set baselines to build on in the future.”

The report highlights the impact of a dedicated conservation effort and found that the overall picture was luminous for nature, with signs of an increase in a number of bird species, marine mammals and natural habitats such as carbon-capturing salt marshes.

However, climate change has increased the temperature in the capital’s waterways by 0.2⁰C per year on average, which combined with associated sea level rises paints a “worrying picture”, according to the report.

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