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How did the “biologically dead” River Thames come alive again?

The Thames is a river in the south of Great Britain thatstretches for 330 kilometers. It flows through the territory of London, which is why it is a very crowded place. Each year, it hosts the "Rowing Race", which is a boat competition between students at Oxford and Cambridge Universities. There is also public water transport on the River Thames - a system of such routes is called London River Services. However, over the years, sewage has flowed into the Thames. The combination of all these factors led to a deterioration in the quality of water and the disappearance of the animals that lived in it. It ended up being considered "biologically dead" in 1957. Fortunately, things started to get better around the 1990s.

River Thames in Great Britain

Interesting fact: in the news papers of the mid-20th century the river Thamesreferred to as "the vast fetid ditch." For example, in 1959 the Manchester Guardian reported that “The tidal sections of the Thames are a poorly regulated open drain. There is no oxygen in it for several miles on either side of the London Bridge. "

How did the Thames River become dead?

The River Thames began to get polluted during the Secondworld war. The bombing destroyed several Victorian sewers that played an important role in water purification. For a long time, no one has been involved in fixing this problem. In 1959, a member of the House of Lords even announced that there was no need to cleanse the rivers at all. Rivers are "a natural dumping ground for waste", he said, because the microbes that live there are good at killing dirt. The abundance of debris led to the depletion of oxygen reserves and many animals left this place.

River Thames in the middle of the 20th century

How did people clean up the River Thames?

The situation began to improve only in the 1960s.years when the UK improved its sewer system. Around the 1980s, people began to be more concerned about the state of the environment, and as a result, tough measures were taken to reduce the amount of chemicals released into the water. Around the 2000s, the amount of silver emissions decreased - this metal was one of the waste products of the photo industry. The situation has improved because society has abandoned film cameras and switched to digital technology.

Moving people from film to digital has contributed to the clearing of debris from the Thames

Progress in the revitalization of the Thames was very noticeable.If in the 1950s there were no fish in the river, at the beginning of the 21st century there were already more than 125 species of fish in the waters. In the early 2000s, scientists launched the Thames Marine Mammal Sightings Survey (TMMSS) program. As part of it, they asked people to inform them about cases of meeting with animals in the River Thames. In total, they collected about 1,500 messages from volunteers who actually noticed the active life on the considered dead river. Mostly people observed animals near the Canary Wharf business district. Most of the people were looking at seals.

Seal in the River Thames

In 2015 the British edition of BBC Newspublished the story of Rod Gazman, an employee located near the Thames fish market. For a long time he followed the seals living by the river and even got a pet - a seal, which everyone else calls Alfred.

When I do this, it usually comes, ”Rod Gazman noted, noisily kicking the metal fence with his heavy boot.

Return of animals to the River Thames

Since the early 2000s, people have noticed the Thamesmore than two thousand seals, hundreds of porpoises and dolphins. Once even a whale was seen - the size of the river allows you to host even such a giant. According to the same BBC News, the Thames is now home to many more animals than half a century ago. For example, there can be found a soup shark (Galeorhinus galeus), a katrana (Squalus), as well as 92 species of birds and 115 species of fish. Among marine mammals there are long-nosed and common seals and porpoises.

Soup shark (Galeorhinus galeus)

The River Thames became alive again because during the periodFrom 2007 to 2020, the concentration of oxygen dissolved in water increased markedly. This became possible thanks to the installation of large treatment facilities. But the problems have not been completely resolved - the mud from the sewage still ends up in the river. The situation should change only after 2025, when the construction of a new sewage system 24 kilometers long and 61 meters deep is completed in the UK. It will annually collect about 39 million tons of untreated wastewater, which is currently simply dumped into the water.

Seahorse that was discovered in the Thames

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The revitalization of the River Thames is certainly great news. But there are many other problems in the world - for example, I once talked about the formation of the "black river" in the United States. Here's a link.