Beached whale art near Cutty Sark

Beached whale art A 17m model of a sperm whale was lowered into position near Greenwich

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A life-sized sculpture of a whale has been installed on a bank of the River Thames in London.

The artwork, part of the Greenwich and Docklands International Festival, commemorates the mammal that beached near Greenwich in 2006.

The 17m (55ft) whale died after it became stranded when he swam upriver.

The sculpture will be moved to the lawns of the Royal Naval College later where it will remain until 23 June as part of Greenwich Fair.

The work was commissioned to highlight Greenwich's role as the centre of London's whaling industry in the 18th Century when street lamps and houses were lit by whale oil.

The British Divers Marine Association, who work in the Thames rescuing animals, is backing this event.

The leviathan which died in 2006 was a northern bottlenose, however the artwork is of a sperm whale.

Alan Knight, from British Divers Marine Life Rescue, said: "Over the last few years we have been seeing more and more whales and dolphins around the coast of the British Isles.

"The beaching of this model sperm whale at Greenwich is something that could happen.

"If this was happening for real we would do all in our power to avoid a whale of this type and size stranding by using a flotilla of boat to gently coax the whale out of the river."

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