In the most important turn of events in the week, the alleged Russian-trained beluga “spy-whale” appears to have defected to Norway.
After it was discovered near the northern Norwegian harbor town of Tufjord on April 29th, it now refused to stray more than a few miles away from it.
It further appears to be entertaining locals with tricks.
“He’s so comfortable with people that when you call him he comes right up to you,” Linn Sæther, a resident of Tufjord on the Arctic island of Rolvsøya.
The Norwegian outlet launched a poll to name the marine mammal.
The name options have some quite witty ones such as: Agent James Beluga, White Russian, Hvaldimir and Fridom.
In the interview, Sæther said locals had been able to pet the whale, which was found at sea by Norwegian fishermen wearing a harness.
The beluga performs twirls and leaps and happily retrieves plastic rings, she said, before swimming up to the dockside with its mouth open, as if looking for a fish in reward. “It is a fantastic experience, but also a tragedy,” Sæther said.
“It’s clearly used to being given tasks and having something to do,” she said. “It reacts when you call it or splash your hands in the water. You can see it’s been trained to fetch and bring back whatever is thrown for it.”
Tor Arild Guleng told the Norwegian outlet the whale had followed his boat from Rolvsøya back to Hammerfest. “It followed me, like an obedient dog without a lead,” Guleng said. “No wild animal seeks you out, sticks its head up and allow you to stroke its nose.”
The harness apparently had a mount, which could potentially be used to place a camera or even a weapon. It had a stamp on it “Equipment St. Petersburg.”
Thus, speculation immediately started circulating that it escaped from a Russian military facility. Audun Rikardsen of Tromsø’s Arctic University of Norway even alleged that the Russian Northern Fleet could be involved.
The Russian defense ministry has denied running a sea mammal special operations programme. But, if Russia allegedly had a spy-whale facility, why would they admit to having it?
It could potentially also be a guard-whale for “evil-mastermind Putin’s” Finnish island secret military base.
It’s also not completely out of the question for the whale to be trained by Russia to infiltrate Norwegian society and then try to disrupt it from the inside. Similarly, to what the US company Mission Essential does by hiring linguists that can “blend in with the local populace.”
An alternative theory, which would prove quite mundane is that the whale somehow got to Norway by escaping from a marine park which has captive whales and dolphins in St. Petersburg, Florida. Since, even if Russia had trained a whale to be a spy and put a harness on it, why would it stamp its equipment at all, and even if it did: Why stamp it in English?
In addition, the beluga would frequently go near the pier to wait for a fish after performing several tricks, which would mean its either trained to do tricks and get a treat, or the Russian spy mammal trainers did a very poor job. Marine biologists said that the whale shouldn’t be fed too much, because it needs to get used to finding its own food and living in the open sea.
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