Seals, dolphins, porpoises thriving in Thames

Seal of approval: Scientists had to photograph the playful, wriggling pups to be able to count them all up.

Does nature always bounce back? The Thames was declared dead, without oxygen, in the 1950s. This summer, 138 seal pups were spotted basking on the banks, and swimming among new marine life.

What’s happening

Sixty-two years ago, scientists said the River Thames was biologically dead because of so much pollution in it.

However, last month, the Zoological Society of London was amazed to find 138 seal pups living on the bank of the river, which runs through London in the UK.

Find out more

Seals are returning to the river because the water is cleaner than it used to be. This means there are plenty of fish for them to eat.

In fact, scientists now say that the Thames has a healthy eco-system, including two species of shark, short-snouted seahorses and eels. There have even been sightings of dolphins and a beluga whale.

It’s not the only good news. Across the UK countryside, some bird species are growing in numbers for the first time in years, mostly thanks to garden bird feeders.

The news about nature is often sad or scary, focusing on the climate crisis or endangered species. At last, we can celebrate some good news.

Does nature always heal itself?

Some say…

No! Some animals are bouncing back because of humans putting in hard work to protect them. Nature does not magically save itself. We have to make sure that we keep working hard to protect the natural world.

Others think…

Yes! Look at what happened to the dinosaurs, when the Sun was blocked out by dust for years, or during the Ice Age, when the planet turned into a ball of ice. The Earth has seen lots of disaster, but life still recovered: we are proof of it.

You Decide

  1. What could you do in your life to help protect wildlife?


  1. For a week, keep a diary of any wild animals (not pets) that you see.

Some People Say...

“Nature’s music is never over: her silences are pauses, not conclusions.”

Mary Webb (1881-1927), English author

What do you think?

Word Watch

Biologically dead
In 1959, The Guardian reported: “No oxygen […] found in it for several miles above and below London Bridge.” So, nothing could live in it.
When harmful substance gets into the environment.
A living community of animals, plants and organisms in a particular area.
Bird feeders
Little houses or cages with seeds to feed birds.
When there are not many animals left in a species because of human or environmental threat.


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