Rescuers free whale stuck in lock along River Thames

ITV News Correspondent Sally Biddulph has the latest on the whereabouts of the whale after it was freed from the lock

A whale has been freed after it became stranded along the River Thames in south-west London on Sunday evening.

Hundreds gathered at Richmond Lock and Weir after the small whale, thought to be around three to four metres long, became stuck on the lock’s boat rollers.

But on Monday the whale was still in the river, spotted near Teddington Lock just after 10.20am, heading downstream towards Chiswick and back towards Richmond Lock and Weir.

The Minke whale was freed on Sunday after it became stuck. Credit: PA

Videos from the rescue showed the animal - believed to be a Minke - being hosed down by a man believed to be a Port of London Authority (PLA) staffer, while a vet performed a check-up at the river’s edge.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) then arrived at the scene to the cheers of onlookers around 9pm.

Fire crews were also at the scene, along with the British Divers Marine Life Rescue service.

Watch as rescuers work in the middle of the night to get the whale aboard an inflatable rescue raft and to safety

The London Fire Brigade said on Monday morning the animal was being assessed by marine specialists.

Station Commander Glen Nicolaides, who was at the scene, said: "This was a very rare and unusual incident. Crews assisted the Coastguard, RNLI and other marine agencies at the scene.

"Our crews were on standby while a marine biologist and vet assessed the condition of the whale. The mammal was removed for further assessment by marine specialists."

Earlier, a witness told the PA news agency that “quite the crowd” watched as the rescue took place.

Jake Manketo, 20, from Richmond, said: “Everyone here is just hoping they get it out.

“We couldn’t believe our eyes when we first saw the poor fella, not every day something like this happens in Richmond.”

The RNLI was cheered on arrival at the scene Credit: Jake Manketo/PA

It is believed the whale was first spotted at midday a few miles up the river near Barnes Bridge.

Minke whales are the smallest of the great whales, growing to about 10m.

They can usually be found throughout the northern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Their range extends from the ice edge in the Arctic during the summer to near the equator during winter.