- A beluga whale that Norwegian scientists believe could be a Russian navy asset is actually super friendly.
- The whale comes when its called, plays fetch with plastic rings, lets people pet it, and has become popular with locals.
- Experts are even worried that the whale may not be able to survive by itself.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
A beluga whale that Norwegian scientists believe may be a Russian military asset is so tame that it comes when it is called and even plays fetch with plastic rings.
The whale – which is wearing a harness with the words “Equipment St. Petersburg” -was found harassing boats off the Norwegian island of Ingøya in April.
Martin Biuw, an expert at Norway’s Institute of Marine Research said that the harness worn by the whale led him to believe that it was being used as a military tool rather than as part of a scientific study.
Despite allegations that the whale may be a Russian asset, it has been found to be super friendly, and even lets people pet its nose, according to people in the area cited by The Associated Press.
AP reported that the whale has become popular with locals, and cited a local woman, Linn Saether, who said: “The whale is so tame that when you call it, it comes to you.”
It can also play fetch with plastic rings, Sky News reported.
“It is a fantastic experience, but we also see it as a tragedy. We can see that it has been trained to bring back stuff that is thrown at sea,” Saether said, according to Sky.
The whale’s harness has space for a camera and other surveillance equipment, and Biuw told Norwegian broadcaster NRK that scientists would not fit a harness to a whale.
“If this whale comes from Russia – and there is great reason to believe it – then it is not Russian scientists but rather the navy that has done this,” he said.
The suggestion is that the whale could have escaped from a Russian military facility, and it is not clear what it might have been trained for.
Because the harness was in English, some suggested that the whale could have escaped a facility in St Petersburg, Florida. But The Associated Press reported Tuesday that no marine facility in the area had reported a missing whale.
Audun Rikardsen, from the Arctic University of Norway told Norwegian newspaper VG that he spoke to Russian researchers that said the whale had likely come from “the Russian Navy in Murmansk,” the headquarters of Russia’s Northern Fleet.
The whale is so used to humans that the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries is concerned that it may not be able to survive by itself in the wild, Sky said.
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