A beluga whale found off Norway’s coast wearing a special Russian harness was probably trained by the Russian navy, a Norwegian expert says.
Marine biologist Prof Audun Rikardsen said the harness had a GoPro camera holder and a label sourcing it to St Petersburg. A Norwegian fisherman managed to remove it from the whale.
He said a Russian fellow scientist had told him that it was not the sort of kit that Russian scientists would use.
Russia has a naval base in the region.
The tame beluga repeatedly approached Norwegian boats off Ingoya, an Arctic island about 415km (258 miles) from Murmansk, where Russia’s Northern Fleet is based. Belugas are native to Arctic waters.
Okay so a whale with a harness was found which the Norwegians say was Russian, and the Norwegian scientist knows a Russians scientist who told him Russian scientists aren’t working with whales. Okay, but how any of that makes the whale a “spy” as BBC wrote in the headline?
The response from Russia — our whales are soldiers, not spies;
Interviewed by Russian broadcaster Govorit Moskva, Col Viktor Baranets said “if we were using this animal for spying do you really think we’d attach a mobile phone number with the message ‘please call this number’?”
“We have military dolphins for combat roles, we don’t cover that up,” he said.
“In Sevastopol (in Crimea) we have a centre for military dolphins, trained to solve various tasks, from analysing the seabed to protecting a stretch of water, killing foreign divers, attaching mines to the hulls of foreign ships.”
It’s clear then. The whale is a Russian defector, or an economic migrant in pursuit of Norwegian cod handouts, not a spy.