A mute swan briefly became a black swan this week following an oil spillage in the Thames.

The river resident was spotted near Tower Bridge earlier this week as the Port of London Authority’s Thames Oil Spill Clearance Association (Tosca) crew investigated reports of dumped oil.

A small tank had somehow got into the river with its sludgy load clogging up the river resident.

PLA staff quickly rescued the swan after some cowboy-style handiwork from deckhand Lawrence Kent.

He said: “We saw the swan and someone asked if I knew anything about them. I’ve rescued a few in my time as I’ve lived on or near the river for years. I managed to gently lasso the bird and we put a coat over it.

“It was a bit agitated but it calmed down and the RSPCA collection officer arrived with a swan bag. It wasn’t covered in oil and will probably be released back into the same part of the Thames. It’s been seen in the same area for a few years, but unfortunately it seems to be on its own. Hopefully it’ll be back on the Thames.”

The swan was collected by an RSPCA officer and cleaned up at an animal sanctuary.

An RSPCA spokesman said: “This swan was very lucky that quick-thinking staff from PLA came to its rescue. The swan is currently being cared for and will be re-released as soon as possible.”