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#428157 - 31st Aug 2010 1:01pm River Mersey is now a wildlife haven say experts
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Once-polluted River Mersey is now a wildlife haven say experts



THE River Mersey has shaken off its unenviable reputation as one of the most polluted waterways in Britain.

Less than 30 years ago, “minister for Merseyside” Michael Heseltine condemned the river as “an affront to the standards a civilised society should demand of its environment”.


But following a major clean-up operation, the river is now home to an increasing variety of wildlife.

Seals, porpoises and even the odd dolphin have all been spotted in the Mersey.

Experts today said it was only a matter of time before otters are sighted.

Denis Riley, who snapped this picture of a seal near Otterspool promenade, wrote on his Flickr page: “The sun was setting so I decided to take some sunsets when someone said there was a seal feeding – had to leg it for 200m and was puffing and blowing when I took a sequence of pics, but most were blurred as I was shaking after the sprint.”

Tony Parker, assistant curator for vertebrate zoology at National Museums Liverpool, said: “It is becoming increasingly common to see seals and porpoises in the Mersey estuary.

“A seal would probably have come from Hilbre Island, where up to 600 spend the summer. They can travel a fair distance and tend to stick around shallow waters.

“Porpoises are normally found washed up on the beach because there is a growing population in the Irish Sea.

“Seals are increasing because there are more fish for them to eat.

“As the water quality improves, there will be more invertebrates. The fish will come to feed on those, which leads to increasing numbers of marine mammals like seals and porpoises. It has gone on over the past 20 years, since the Mersey started to get cleaner.”

But while marine mammals have started to multiply thanks to the greater numbers of fish in the river, some bird populations have gone into decline because they fed off invertebrates which thrived in the polluted conditions.


Mr Parker said: “When the water is horrible and polluted, there is a certain invertebrate form which thrives in those conditions.

“They are quite good food sources for a lot of birds.

“Now they have cleaned up the river, those invertebrates are not available any more and the birds have gone elsewhere.”

Mr Parker said there was a marked decline in the number of wading birds seen on the Mersey, although fish-eating birds like cormorants and little egrets had started to appear.

The Mersey Basin Campaign led the clean-up of the river and was only wound up this year after 25 years of improving water quality.

A spokeswoman for the Environment Agency said the River Mersey was heavily polluted from years of industrial activity which took place along the river system.

She said: “This activity meant it was virtually impossible for any aquatic life to live within the water.

“We have worked hard with partners to improve the water quality of the River Mersey.

“Over the last few years, salmon were found within the Mersey.

“Otter and kingfisher populations also showed an increase. It is a true indication the water quality has significantly improved.”

THE ECHO

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#428158 - 31st Aug 2010 1:18pm Re: River Mersey is now a wildlife haven say experts [Re: ]
chev_chelios Offline
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Registered: 30th Jul 2009
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The seal


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#428177 - 31st Aug 2010 3:17pm Re: River Mersey is now a wildlife haven say experts [Re: chev_chelios]
Capt_America Offline
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Registered: 26th Jul 2008
Posts: 1499
Loc: Wallasey
Good News, they need to keep up the good work. Too much sewage is still pumped though.
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#428182 - 31st Aug 2010 3:50pm Re: River Mersey is now a wildlife haven say experts [Re: Capt_America]
chev_chelios Offline
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Saw a mersey goldfish last wk and a beached 1

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#428211 - 31st Aug 2010 6:28pm Re: River Mersey is now a wildlife haven say experts [Re: ]
chev_chelios Offline
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#428308 - 31st Aug 2010 10:48pm Re: River Mersey is now a wildlife haven say experts [Re: chev_chelios]
philmch Offline
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Registered: 27th Dec 2007
Posts: 324
Loc: Wirral
One reason why we should be grateful for the death of heavy industry in our area. You should've seen the state of the river in the 70s. It was literally awash with raw sewage.

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#428315 - 31st Aug 2010 10:59pm Re: River Mersey is now a wildlife haven say experts [Re: philmch]
diggingdeeper Offline

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Registered: 9th Jul 2008
Posts: 9659
Loc: Birkenhead
Originally Posted By: philmch
One reason why we should be grateful for the death of heavy industry in our area. You should've seen the state of the river in the 70s. It was literally awash with raw sewage.
Yes, the old saying that if you fell off a ferry, you were more likely to die of concussion than drowning.
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#428351 - 1st Sep 2010 5:28am Re: River Mersey is now a wildlife haven say experts [Re: diggingdeeper]
bert1 Offline

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Registered: 27th Nov 2008
Posts: 7846
Loc: tranmere
And when Jesus walked on water it must of been the Mersey, i will never show any gratitude whatsoever for the loss of heavy industry in this area, how can anyone be grateful for the loss of many thousands of jobs. The water authorities and industry could have done better and certainly could have had better control of what was dumped in the river, however i would rather of seen the survival of industry and jobs than to have a few seals visible from time to time.
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