Norwegian officials believe beluga whales may have been trained by the Russian navy and used to humans.
A beluga whale spotted in Norway in 2019, sparking speculation it was once trained by the Russian navy because of the artificial harness it was worn, has reappeared off the coast of Sweden, an organization that tracks his movements has said.
When he first appeared in Norway’s northern Arctic Finnmark region, marine biologists from the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries removed an attached harness that had a mount suitable for the action camera and the line. the word “St Petersburg Appliance” is printed on the plastic hook.
Board of Directors officials said at the time that the whale may have escaped the enclosure and may have been trained by the Russian navy as it appeared to be accustomed to humans.
The Norwegians nicknamed the beluga “Hvaldimir” – a pun on the Norwegian word “whale”, hval, and “dimir”, a nod to its alleged links to Russia.
OneWhale said on Monday that Hvaldimir had spent more than three years slowly moving down the upper half of the Norwegian coast before suddenly accelerating in recent months to cover the second half and move into Sweden.
On Sunday, he was observed in Hunnebostrand, off the southwest coast of Sweden, the organization said.
BREAKING NEWS: Hvaldimir has left Norwegian waters and is now in Sweden. We are working with the Swedish authorities. pic.twitter.com/9JQpVdcB6T
– A whale (@onewhaleorg) May 29, 2023
“We don’t know why it’s accelerating so quickly at the moment,” especially since it is moving “so quickly away from its natural environment,” said Sebastian Strand, the foundation’s marine biologist. OneWhale, told the French news agency AFP.
“It could be the hormone that drives him to find a mate. Or it could be loneliness, as the white whale is a highly social species – it could be looking for other beluga whales.” Believed to be between 13 and 14 years old, Hvaldimir is “at an age where his hormone levels are very high,” Strand said.
But the closest population of belugas is in the Svalbard archipelago, at the northernmost tip of Norway. This whale is believed to have not seen a beluga since arriving in Norway in April 2019.
On its websiteOneWhale said, “Hvaldimir is not a wild whale. He behaves like a lost or abandoned domesticated animal. Instead of hiding from people, he sought them out.”
Moscow has never issued any official response to Norwegian speculation that the whale may be a “Russian spy”.
The Barents Sea is a strategic geopolitical area where the activities of Western and Russian submarines are monitored. It was also the gateway to the Northern Road that shortened the maritime journey between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
Strand said the whale’s health “seems very good” in recent years, as they forage in the wild under Norwegian salmon farms. But his organization was concerned about Hvaldimir’s foraging ability in Sweden, and they observed him losing weight.
Beluga whales, which can reach 6 meters (20 feet) in size and live for 40 to 60 years, usually live in the icy waters around Greenland, northern Norway and Russia.