September 29, 2023

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A belt-wielding beluga whale and a rumored Russian spy go off in Sweden

A belt-wielding beluga whale and a rumored Russian spy go off in Sweden

A beluga whale wears a harness off the coast of northern Norway, April 29, 2019.
Jorgen Ree Wiig/Sea Surveillance Service/Handout/NTB Scanpix via REUTERS

  • A beluga whale wearing a harness that read “St. Petersburg gear” appeared in Norway in 2019.
  • Officials said they believed the trained whale was of Russian marine origin and may have escaped.
  • The whale appeared Sunday in Sweden, far from its natural habitat.

A friendly beluga whale first appeared wearing a harness four years ago and believed to be a Russian spy again in Sweden this week, baffling scientists.

the Beluga It first appeared off the coast of Norway in 2019, and was spotted by fishermen who noticed the whale was wearing a harness with camera mounts. The fisherman alerted the Norwegian Fisheries Directorate, who said a clip on the whale belts read “St. Petersburg gear” — indicating that it may have come from Russia.

“The whale looked playful, but our instincts said it was also asking for help to get out of the saddle,” said marine biologist Jürgen Ree Weg. CNN on time. He said officials believe the whale came from Russia and that the Russian Navy “has been known to train beluga whales for military operations before.”

In the past, biologists said, beluga whales were used to guard naval bases, assist divers and find lost gear. They also said that in the Cold War Russia used beluga whales to detect mines and torpedoes.

And researchers said that it is clear that the whale was trained, noting that it approaches the boats, raises its head above the water and opens its mouth, indicating that it is waiting to be fed as a reward. It wasn’t clear how the whale ended up in Norway, but one theory was that it somehow escaped from its marine pen.

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Dubbing the whale Hvaldemir, a play on the Norwegian word for “whale” and the first name of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Norwegian officials removed the whale.

Hvaldemir also made headlines for recovering and returning a woman’s phone that she dropped in the water.

After spending several years traveling south down the Norwegian coast, a beluga whale swooped down to quickly cover the southern half of the coast and appeared off the southwest coast of Sweden on Sunday, Watchman mentioned.

“We don’t know why it’s accelerating so fast right now,” Sebastian Strand, a marine biologist with OneWhale, told the outlet. He also noted that it was puzzling because the whale was traveling “very quickly away from its natural habitat”.

The closest beluga whales live farther north, in the Arctic Ocean and frozen waters north of Norway and around Greenland.

“It could be hormones that are driving him to find a mate. Or it could be loneliness, because beluga whales are a very social species — it could be because he’s looking for other whales,” Strand said.

Russia has never addressed reports that the beluga could be a spy for the Kremlin.