The tale of the lonely whale in the Thames, stranded thousands of miles from home, captured the imagination of the British public when the animal was spotted surfacing in the waters last year.
Hundreds flocked from across the country to catch a glimpse of “Benny” the beluga when the whale was spied in September by birdwatchers.
While many feared the whale was stuck, experts later found the Arctic creature was perfectly happy feeding on the plentiful fish in the stretch of the river by Gravesend.
The only worry was that the animal was alone, as belugas are highly sociable animals.
Our unusual visitor has now, it appears, made its way home, hopefully to its pod. The beluga whale is often found in the arctic.
Those who have been monitoring the whale have estimated it left around December, when the fish migrated away from the Thames.
However, experts were unable to say where the whale will have gone, as they do not know where it is from.
A spokesperson for British Divers Marine Life Rescue told The Telegraph: “It probably has moved on.
“We don’t know where it went, because we don’t know where it came from!”
Chiefs at the Port of London Authority said in a statement: “The last confirmed sighting of the whale was in December 2018, further downstream from Gravesend.
“Hydrophones have been placed in the water and can record noise produced by the whale – these have also not recorded any evidence of whale activity.
“As the fish that were likely to be the preferred food source for the whale migrate
out of the estuary early in the year, we conclude that the whale has moved on elsewhere.”
While many of the residents of Gravesend, Kent, may be forlorn that their unusual visitor has left, the local council may be pleased that the disruption caused by the whale will be over.
Events including Bonfire Night had to be cancelled last year for fear of harming the whale, and ships had to amend their journeys or travel slowly around the areas where the whale was feeding and swimming.
Locals made the most of the excitement caused by the whale, with shops selling stuffed beluga toys and a local brewery naming a beer after the Arctic animal.