Norwegian Authorities Caution Residents to Avoid Contact with Affectionate Whale Suspected of Espionage
The animal, nicknamed Hvaldimir, was spotted wearing a harness branded with "St. Petersburg" and mounted with an underwater camera, leading experts to believe the Russian Navy trained it.
Frank Bakke-Jensen, director of the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries, has urged people to avoid contact with Hvaldimir for the safety of the animal and themselves.
Recent weeks have seen the white whale foraging for food at farms and coming dangerously close to boats in the densely populated Inner Oslofjord area.
Bakke-Jensen notes that Hvaldimir has already suffered minor injuries due to contact with boats, and there is a worry that such contact may become more serious if it continues.
Hvaldimir first appeared in 2019 when fisherman Joar Hesten noticed it rubbing its body against his boat while fishing in northeast Norway's Finnmark county.
Marine biologists and other experts noted that due to its behaviour, equipment, and physical condition, it was likely a trained animal from Russia - a theory further supported by one of its harness clips reading "Equipment St. Petersburg".
Despite this suspicion, officials have stated they have no intention of capturing and containing Hvaldimir - but they will continue to monitor his movements closely.
While some may find it amusing that a friendly beluga whale could be accused of being an undercover agent - their actions should not be taken lightly, as there are dangers involved if humans get too close.
For now, residents are strongly encouraged to give Hvaldimir plenty of space so he can safely continue his mysterious mission, whether on behalf of Russia or alone.
Source: NY Post