The River Thames has seen a lot of things. 

From a giant statue of Michael Jackson to a 16th Century Sword and even a 5,000-year-old human bone, nothing surprises the Thames now.

But away from the non-living kind, the London landmark has seen just as many odd and amazing creatures.

It's not only humans that like to be tourists, as dozens of animals have been spotted floating down the River Thames over the years.

While you may often spot a typical fish or two, you might not expect the likes of whales or even deadly sharks, but their Thames sightings have been recorded.

All the animals spotted in the River Thames

Below you can see a full list of all the animals recorded to be seen in the River Thames according to the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and London Wildlife Trust.

  • European eels
  • Short snouted Seahorse
  • Harbour and Grey seals
  • Tope and Starry Smoothhound sharks
  • Oysters
  • 125 different species of fish
  • Northern Bottlenose Whale
  • Dolphins
  • Porpoises
  • Otters 
  • Seahorse
  • Pipistrelle and Daubenton’s bats
  • Swans
  • Grey Herons
  • Cormorants
  • Canada and Egyptian Geese
  • Mallard
  • Grey Wagtails 
  • Pied Wagtails

Back in 2006, London was amazed when a Northern Bottlenose Whale was spotted in the Thames near Battersea when the animal became beached.

Whilst attempts were made to rescue the whale it sadly did not survive and is now in the National Research Collection at the Natural History Museum.

The Thames has seen at least five species of sharks in recorded times, with the most common being the Tope and Starry Smoothhound sharks. 

ZSL believes that the Greater Thames Estuary is somewhat used as a nursing ground for the sharks. 

They shared: "Adult sharks are thought to like pupping in shallow bays and estuaries and as such the Thames provides an ideal habitat, with young sharks remaining in these nursery ground for up to two years."


A statue of Michael Jackson to human bones - the strangest items in the Thames

Two species of seals like to call the Thames their home, with the harbour and grey seals often spotted.

Records show a population of around 4,000 that live along the sandbank and the hidden coastal areas in the outer estuary.

Dolphins were most recently spotted in the Thames in April 2024 with videos of the friendly animals going viral.