Is a Beluga Whale Working for the Russian Navy?

Norwegian fisherman found this guy snooping around the Arctic Ocean

Beluga Whale
A beluga whale was allegedly used by the Russian navy. (Getty)
By Tanner Garrity / April 29, 2019 2:46 pm

This week in marine life espionage: fisherman off Norway’s northern coast just stumbled upon a beluga whale wrapped in a tight harness.

The white wale was surprisingly tame, and the fisherman kept it occupied with fish treats while attempting to remove the harness. Eventually, they succeeded, noting the harness read “Equipment of St. Petersburg.”

According to Russian researchers, the whale is not part of any experiment or marine biology tracking — it most likely belongs to the Russian Navy, which is based only 300 miles away from the fishing village of Ingøy, in Murmansk. (Despite being farther west than Sweden and Finland, Norway’s northern coast wraps eastward along the Arctic Ocean, and actually shares a border with Russia.)

Ignoring the fact that the beluga’s harness literally saying “Equipment of St. Petersburg” is a plot-point in a crappy spy movie, this is a tepid confirmation of a 2017 report that Russia planned to train aquatic creatures for military purposes. While the whale wasn’t outfitted with anything, the harness could (and possibly did) have room for a small, waterproof camera. It probably wasn’t meddling in any elections, but it could have been collecting data on the patterns of submarines and other aquatic vessels near the Arctic Circle. Thanks to a couple Norwegians, it’s now free.

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