AS a Beluga whale surfaces in the Thames off Gravesend, we republish this artcle from 2015 when a pair of whales were spotted off Northumberland.

TWO RARE Beluga whales have been spotted off the North-East coast - thousands of miles from home.

The whales were reported to Sea Watch Foundation by members of the public on Sunday, August 30.

Sam Newman, spotted an unmistakable white whale from the sweeping beach at Warkworth, Northumberland. His description to Sea Watch’s Sightings Officer, Kathy James seemed to confirm the identity of the species.

The following day, holidaymaker, Steve Powis saw two white animals out to sea from the beach and also reported his sighting to the Sea Watch website.

The Northern Echo:
Distinctive arched back and bulbous head of beluga whale. Photo by Sam Newman/ Sea Watch Foundation

He said: “As I walked down to the beach, somebody told me that a ‘white whale had been spotted out there’. I was a bit sceptical and laughed it off as I rounded the corner to the beach and saw a small white boat anchored offshore, so I discounted it altogether.

"Moments later though, I saw what was clearly a white whale in the sea, and realised that this was the whale I’d been told about.

“I’ve never seen whales before (except on TV), but this was quite obviously a Beluga! In fact, there were two! They were white, had a bulbous head and no dorsal fin. I saw one about 100-150 metres out and the second one showed itself a distance beyond that.

"My wife and I watched the nearest one for an hour, as it repeatedly went under and re-surfaced along this small stretch of coastline.”

Onlooker Deb Powis added: “There were locals who were walking their dogs who have been walking the beach all their life and have never seen a whale in all that time."

Recently, the National Whale and Dolphin watch saw hundreds of people travelling to the coast or offshore in boats to take part in Sea Watch’s annual event.

Many during the week had to battle unseasonally poor weather – high winds and relatively cold temperatures. This seems to have been the story of the summer in many parts of the British Isles.

Belugas are normally found at least 2,000 miles away to the north either around Greenland or in the Barents Sea from the island archipelago of Svalbard eastwards, where thousands of animals live among the ice.