A rowing club has apologised after an ‘incident on the water’ led to the death of a cygnet on the River Thames.

Wildlife rescue charity Swan Support received a call from a “distressed” member of the public at around 7:30am on Sunday (June 9) after they saw “the blades of two boats from the Marlow Rowing Club strike and kill” a young swan on the Thames in Maidenhead. 

The two eight-person boats reportedly each had a cox and were accompanied by a rowing coach in a third safety vessel, but failed to slow down upon spotting a family of swans up ahead.

After the cygnet had been “killed” by the rowing blades, witnesses said the other swans surrounded its body and moved it downstream.

A spokesperson for Swan Support said they believed the incident “could have been avoided” and had been reported to Thames Valley Police.

Adding: “While there was little (we) could do for the cygnet, volunteers went out to recover them and check on the family.

“Rivers and waterways are there to be enjoyed by all, but we ask that locals are respected. Those with young cannot move out of the way quickly enough and many of the adults are now going into the moult so cannot fly or manoeuvre out of the way.”

A spokesperson for Marlow Rowing Club acknowledged the incident, describing it as a “regrettable accident” that had “resulted in the loss of life for a young cygnet”.

They said: “Marlow Rowing Club is passionate about our environment, and we attempt to do all we can to support it.

“We are providing details to the King’s Swan Marker.”

Swan Support volunteers were reportedly also called to the Staines side of Penton Hook, Surrey on Sunday afternoon after an adult swan was killed by a "speeding boat". 

Reacting to the news of the cygnet’s death, residents lamented the “unacceptable and heartbreaking behaviour” from the rowing club, with one person accusing the local organisation of “destroying wildlife for the sake of winning a race”.

Swan Support is a non-profit rescue centre and service that has provided treatment and care for swans in the Thames Valley and surrounding areas for over 20 years.

The team of local volunteers led by centre coordinator Wendy Hermon regularly work around the clock to respond to calls about injured or sick water birds and rely on public donations to provide them with care, food and shelter.

They can be contacted by emailing info@swansupport.org.uk or calling 07968 868172.