A harness-wearing Beluga whale discovered in Norway’s far northern region of Finnmark in 2019 has reappeared off Sweden’s coast. It’s believed the Russian military trained the whale.
Sebastian Strand, a marine biologist with the OneWhale organization, a group that tracks the beluga whale named “Hvaldimir,” said he was recently spotted in Hunnebostrand, off Sweden’s southwestern coast.
“We don’t know why he has sped up so fast right now,” especially since he is moving “very quickly away from his natural environment,” Strand told AFP News.
The last recorded location of Hvaldimir.
Strand said the whale is estimated to be 13-14 years old and is “at an age where his hormones are very high.”
“It could be hormones driving him to find a mate. Or it could be loneliness as Belugas are a very social species — it could be that he’s searching for other Beluga whales,” he said.
Hvaldimir is thought to be a former intelligence asset for the Russians. When first observed in 2019 by fishermen, they found he was wearing a harness with “Equipment of St. Petersburg” printed on it.
Russia’s Defense Ministry has denied the alleged spy whale belongs to them. However, Russia and the US have used marine mammals, including beluga whales, for decades for various underwater tasks, such as finding underwater mines.
And perhaps the use of spy whales and other marine mammals is being phased out as militaries worldwide are quickly modernizing their forces with undersea drones.