Spy kit: beluga with cameras sailed from Russia to Norway, and then to Sweden - ForumDaily
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Whale spy: beluga with cameras sailed from Russia to Norway, and then to Sweden

The beluga, nicknamed Hvaldimir, gained international fame in 2019 after she was spotted wearing a custom-made harness with camera mounts in Norwegian waters. This led experts to speculate that the animal may have been trained by the Russian military. Now the spy whale has entered Swedish waters, reports CNN

Photo: IStock

“After four years of sailing south along the coast of Norway, the belugas Hvaldimir, known worldwide as the ‘Russian spy’, is now in Swedish waters,” OneWhale, an organization set up to protect animal health and welfare, said in a May 29 statement.

The name of the popular whale was chosen during the voting, combining the name of the Russian president and the Norwegian word whale, which translates as "whale".

Hvaldimir was recently spotted in the Norwegian capital of Oslo, raising concerns about the whale's safety given the heavy ship traffic in the area.

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“But the famous beluga has sailed around the dangerous waters of Oslo,” OneWhale said in a statement. – We are impressed by Sweden's concern for Hvaldimir. They immediately contacted us upon his arrival and even blocked the bridge to protect him.”

OneWhale President Rich Herman once again praised Sweden's response to the whale's arrival.

“Hvaldimir's situation remains extremely vulnerable as Sweden is a densely populated country, but we are very grateful to the Swedish authorities for taking swift action to care for the whale,” he said.

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Earlier this month, the Norwegian Fisheries Authority said Hvaldimir has been "traveling along the Norwegian coast" since 2019, making several stops along the way.

“The whale tends to stay on farms where it has been able to fish on surplus feed,” the agency added.

Hvaldimir is known to follow the boats and play with those on board. Apparently, the whale got used to people: he was not afraid to swim up to them, he took treats from his hand, and let himself be stroked.

The arrival of the whale in a "densely populated area" around Oslo meant that "the risk that the whale could be injured due to human contact has become significantly higher," the agency said at the time.

Was trained and equipped

In 2019, experts reported that Khvaldimir was a trained animal and evidence suggests that the whale came from Russia.

Jørgen Ree Wiig, a marine biologist with the Norwegian Fisheries Authority, said the whale's neck harness looks "specially made" and has "mounts for GoPro cameras on each side."

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On the clips was placed the logo of the St. Petersburg company "Equipment" and the inscription in Latin "Equipment St. Petersburg” (“Equipment St. Petersburg”). This supports the theory that the whale came from Murmansk, Russia and was trained by the Russian Navy.

Norwegian fishermen from Hammerfest said that when they found the whale, it was equipped with a GoPro action camera. The whale was rubbing against the fishermen's boat in an attempt to free itself. Animal rescuers and fishermen worked to free him from his harness - one of the fishermen donned a rescue suit and jumped over the side of the boat to loosen the buckles.. The whale continued to return to the boats for several days, begging for food, brought and served objects thrown into the water.

“It is known that the Navy has trained Belugas in the past in military operations,” Wiig said, “for example, guarding naval bases, assisting divers, finding lost equipment.”

Norwegian writer Sylvie Jane Husebay wrote a documentary book on the history of Hvaldimir. In it, she emotionally tells how the inhabitants of Hammerfest fell in love with the beluga.

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