A Beluga whale thought by experts to be a spy trained by the Russian navy has appeared again – wearing a harness – off the coast of Sweden.
The creature was branded a “Russian spy” whale as it was last week spotted in Norway, whose residents were warned “avoid contact” with it.
And in 2019, a Beluga whale – believed to be the same creature – was filmed apparently playing catch with a rugby ball with a group of men – again off the coast of Norway.
Marine biologists previously said it is “undoubtable” the whale has been trained and highlighted that Russia had trained Belugas in the past to “conduct military operations”.
Witnesses in Hunnebostrand, Sweden, though, said the whale made peculiar moves away from his natural environment at an unusual speed.
Sebastian Strand, a marine biologist with the OneWhale organisation, said: “We don’t know why he has sped up so fast right now, especially since he is moving ‘very quickly away from his natural environment.
“It could be hormones driving him to find a mate. Or it could be loneliness as Belugas are a very social species – it could be that he’s searching for other Beluga whales.”
Believed to be 13-14 years old, Strand said the whale is “at an age where his hormones are very high”.
Did this Beluga whale escape a ‘Russian military spy program’?
The closest population of Belugas is however located in the Svalbard archipelago, in Norway’s far north.
The whale is not believed to have seen a single Beluga since arriving in Norway in April 2019.
Speaking in April 2019, Norwegian marine experts called the Beluga’s behaviour “tame”.
When he first appeared in Norway’s Arctic, marine biologists from the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries removed an attached man-made harness.
The harness had a mount suited for an action camera and the words ‘Equipment St. Petersburg’ printed on the plastic clasps.
Beluga whales, which can reach a size of 20 feet (six meters) and live to between 40 and 60 years of age, generally inhabit the icy waters around Greenland, northern Norway and Russia.
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