Watch this cute whale asking for food in the video below.
Video credit: BBC News
A group of Norwegian fishermen ran into a beluga whale that was wearing a tight harness with a camera attachment, triggering speculations that the animal may belong to the Russian Navy.
The crew released the animal from the straps on Sunday.
Speaking to Norway’s state broadcaster NRK, one of the fishermen said they jumped into the freezing water to help the animal.
He said: “When I was lying in the water, he came all the way up to the side, and I managed to reach the front buckle and open it.”
Photos shared by Norway’s Directorate of Fisheries on social media showed the whale with straps around its body.
“White whale off the Finnmarkkysten coast that had tight straps fastened around the body is free,” the caption read.
“Crew from the Fisheries Directorate’s Sea Service are trained to release whales from ropes and fishing gear and, together with the local fisherman Joar Hesten, they managed to liberate the whale.”
Inspector Joergen Ree Wiig of the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries was at the scene and said the harness was branded with “equipment of St. Petersburg” and also had a camera mount.
This has led to speculation that the whale may have escaped from a Russian military facility.
Audun Rikardsen, an arctic and marine biology professor at the University of Norway, said that the Russian Navy kept whales in captivity.
“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.”
However, Russia has scoffed at the suggestions its “spy whale” had been caught snooping on the fishing vessels of a NATO country although the Defense Ministry in Moscow had previously admitted to experimenting on using these mammals for espionage.
“If this whale comes from Russia – and there is a great reason to believe it – then it is not Russian scientists, but rather the navy that has done this,” countered Martin Biuw of the Institute of Marine Research in Norway.
There has been no official comment from Moscow but denials and ridicule have been said about the thought of using whales as underwater conscripts.
Viktor Baranets, a retired colonel cited by Moskovsky Komsomolets, said: “The Norwegians would, perhaps, want to see a GRU (military intelligence) officer’s identity card attached to the (whale).”
He also accused Norway and the rest of Scandinavia of “paranoia that sees either our nuclear submarine or our divers in each floating log.”
While conceding that the whale came from Russia, he said that it most likely came from a civilian research institute in St. Petersburg.
A Twitter campaign also took shots at claims that the whale may have had military uses.
“A GoPro can work for a maximum of an hour in cold water. Can a white whale replace the battery and flash drive? What’s the point of putting such a useless camera on it?” according to one comment.
Another ridiculed: “The white whale could have easily bought this equipment in any military equipment shop.”
Yet two years ago, the Russian Defense Ministry’s TV station Zvezda revealed a program that involved experimenting with whales for military purposes.
Its aim was to utilize the sea mammals for underwater warfare roles including potentially killing intruders, it stated.
Last year, the Russian Academy of Scientists was reportedly awarded an honor for “outstanding research” for experiments involving sea mammals.
“Dozens of People Gathered to Help a Beached Whale Get Back Into the Ocean. They Way Whale Thanked Is Taking Internet By Storm”