Fishermen near the fishing village of Inga in Norway filmed an unusually friendly beluga whale sporting a harness that is now thought to be part of a marine mammal training program by the Russian navy.
The Guardian reports: ‘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.’
Said Audun Rikardsen, professor at the department of arctic and marine biology at the Arctic University of Norway: “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.”
Though far from where the harnessed beluga was spotted, Russians are known to keep whale jails where imprisoned orcas and belugas are kept, said to be used for export to China.