White Whale Found Wearing Harness Could Be Russian Military Spy

By R.J. Johnson - @rickerthewriter

April 30, 2019

A white beluga whale spotted off the coast of a small Norwegian fishing village last week may be part of a Russian spy program thanks to the special harness it was wearing, marine experts said.

The white whale followed the group of fisherman while they were off the coast of Ingoya, a small Norwegian fishing village located in the arctic. Joar Hesten, one of the fisherman on board, told local broadcaster NRK the beluga swam up to his crew's boat while wearing the harness around its body. The beluga had been following their boat and tugging on some loose straps hanging from the ship.

"We were going to put out nets when we saw a whale swimming between the boats," Hesten said. "It came over to us, and as it approached, we saw that it had some sort of harness on it."

Attached to the harness was a GoPro camera mount labeled, "Equipment of St. Petersburg," the BBC reported. There was no camera.

The whale appeared tame and used to human beings, Hesten said. One of the fisherman managed to remove the harness and took it to a Russian scientist who said it was not anything biologists would use.

About 258 miles away from the fishing village is Murmansk, which is where Russia's Northern Fleet is based.

Audun Rikardsen, a professor at the department of arctic and marine biology at the Arctic University of Norway said Russia is known to have domestic whales in captivity and that some of them had been released.

"A Russian colleague said they don't do such experiments, but she knows the navy has caught belugas for some years and trained them - most likely it's related to that," he told the BBC.

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