Thames River Firework Display Cancelled Because Of 'Benny' The Beluga Whale
A firework display on the banks of the River Thames has been cancelled by the local council because of fears that it might disturb 'Benny' the beluga whale who has taken up residence in the area.
Around 15,000 people had been expected to turn out for the annual bonfire night firework display in Kent, but they will all now have to find something else to do after the powers that be decided it was too much of a risk to the whale.
According to The Sun, the leader of Gravesend Borough Council, David Turner, said: "The need to keep Benny safe while he visits us in Gravesend must take priority.
"Every effort will be made to reschedule this hugely popular event, but a decision cannot be made now as no-one knows how long Benny will remain in residence here.
"While we understand this is also disappointing to the thousands of residents and visitors who enjoy our fantastic firework display every year, we have to ensure our special visitor is kept safe and well."
It had been planned that the firework would be set off from a barge on the river just near the Riverside Leisure Area in Gravesend on Friday 2 November.
However, the whale has been inhabiting that area since September 25 and has been spotted feeding near some barges in the area on several occasions.
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Gravesend council said the decision had been taken after consulting with the Port of London Authority on the matter. They have also urged people living in the area nearby not to hold private firework displays for fear of the bangs disturbing the whale.
After their consultation it was decided that the display should be called off altogether, as even holding the event somewhere else near to the river or the town of Gravesend would still be likely to cause distress to the whale.
The Port of London Authority's Martin Garside hailed the decision as a 'good call'.
He added: "This species of whale has never been seen this far south."
As he said, the beluga whale is not exactly native to these waters. They are usually found in the colder seas around Svalbard, Norway, the Barents Sea, and around Greenland.
Whilst they have been spotted around Britain and Ireland in the past, one has never been observed in the Thames until now.
The whale has so far been thought to be healthy and content, although it is not clear whether the animal will eventually return home.
Featured Image Credit: PA