Whale with harness could be Russian weapon, say Norwegian experts
Fisherman in Norway raised alarm after white beluga whale sporting unusual strapping began harassing their boats
By Hannah Ellis-Petersen for the Guardian
Mon 29 Apr 2019 06.55 BST
Marine experts in Norway believe they have stumbled upon a white whale that was trained by the Russian navy as part of a programme to use underwater mammals as a special ops force.
Fishermen in waters near the small Norwegian fishing village of Inga reported last week that a white beluga whale wearing a strange harness had begun to harass their fishing boats.
“We were going to put out nets when we saw a whale swimming between the boats,” fisherman Joar Hesten told Norwegian broadcaster NRK. “It came over to us, and as it approached, we saw that it had some sort of harness on it.”
The strange behaviour of the whale, which was actively seeking out the vessels and trying to pull straps and ropes from the sides of the boats, as well as the fact it was wearing a tight harness which seemed to be for a camera or weapon, raised suspicions among marine experts that the animal had been given military-grade training by neighbouring Russia. Inside the harness, which has now been removed from the whale, were the words “Equipment of St. Petersburg”.
The fisherman said the whale was very tame and seemed used to human beings.
“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,” said Martin Biuw of the Institute of Marine Research in Norway.
Audun Rikardsen, professor at the department of arctic and marine biology at the Arctic University of Norway (UiT), told NRK: “We know that in Russia they have had domestic whales in captivity and also that some of these have apparently been released. Then they often seek out boats.” He said he had contacted Russian researchers who said the harnessed whale had nothing to do with them. “They tell me that most likely is the Russian navy in Murmansk,” said Rikardsen.