Important Service Update: Butler's Wharf Pier is now part of our river cruise route! Click here for more details.

Wildlife on the River Thames

A sense of porpoise

For much of the 20th century, the Thames was one of the most polluted rivers in the country, but over the past 50 years, efforts to clean it up have been successful and there are now over 125 different species of fish living in it, including perch, carp, chub, bream, pike and gudgeon.

This repopulation has attracted a lot of wildlife that loves nothing better than a fish supper (breakfast, lunch, brunch, teatime snack …) which includes significant numbers of seals, dolphins and harbour porpoises. In fact, since 2004, there have been nearly 2,000 sightings of harbour seals and grey seals, more than 300 sightings of harbour porpoises, and nearly 100 sightings of dolphins.

Quite a few seals have been spotted on the Circular Cruises route between Tower Bridge and Westminster – and they’ve even been seen as far upriver as Teddington. If you spot a seal or a dolphin in the Thames, don’t just admire it and take photos, you also need to let the Thames Marine Mammals Survey know too. The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) has produced a sightings map for these species in London and wants members of the public to record any sightings and share any photographs. And then, of course, please also share your sightings on our own Twitter and Facebook pages!

In the air

One of the greatest ‘back from the brink’ successes in the bird world has been the resurgence of the peregrine falcon. In the past, this majestic bird of prey lived on the coast, nesting on high cliffs, and this has allowed it to adapt brilliantly to our cities with their tall buildings and plentiful supply of food, mainly in the form of pigeons! The London Wildlife Trust estimates there are around 30 breeding pairs in London, nesting on buildings like the Tate Modern and the Houses of Parliament, so you could well spot some from one of our boats.

Other birds you may see are cormorants, Canada geese, and herons. Although, of course, if you’d like to see ravens, you can see them at the Tower of London!


If you love wildlife, then you’ll be all too aware of the impact that our throwaway society has had on the natural world. According to the Marine Conservation Trust: “Even though the Thames is one of the cleanest city rivers in the world, 25 tonnes of rubbish are still collected from it every day. Wildlife, from fish to porpoises, may be harmed by litter in our waterways. Make sure your rubbish is disposed of responsibly to save animals from becoming entangled in or swallowing your waste.”

Click here to book your Circular Cruise tickets and let’s hope you get to see some amazing wildlife as well as some of the best sights in London.


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