… Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries official Jorgen Ree Wiig told The Washington Post that the beluga “was the first thing I saw outside of the window” of his patrolling ship in the morning. Speaking from the city of Hammerfest, he said the whale had moved only about 25 nautical miles within the last week and appeared to enjoy the proximity to humans, which he noted was “strange” for a beluga.
Contrary to the species’ normal behavior, the beluga had allowed residents to pet its nose over the last few days.
The whale was first spotted by Norwegian fishermen last week, when they noticed that the whale defied normal behavior by persistently harassing their boats. The fishermen subsequently spotted a strange harness wrapped around the whale’s body.
Wiig said an inscription on the harness they later recovered read “Equipment St. Petersburg.” He said he had handed the harness over to Norway’s special police security agency (PST).
No details over the status of this probe have been made public, and the PST did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday…
In this part of Europe, nobody would be surprised if the latest Norwegian discovery did indeed turn out to be the fallout of a military experiment gone wrong. Since the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea, there have been creepy reminders of the Kremlin’s massive military apparatus lurking on Europe’s eastern outskirts: mystery submarines; unidentified jets, including one that almost crashed with a passenger plane; and strange troop movements…
Per the Guardian, this beluga could well be a escapee, or a ‘washout’ dumped by its former captors:
… During their research the Murmansk sea biology research institute concluded dolphins and seals were much more suited to the training and arctic climates than the beluga whales. The whales were deemed too sensitive to the cold and did not have the same “high professionalism” of seals, which had a far better memory for remembering oral commands.
But it was Vice’s Motherboard that reported a key detail:
… From their patrol ship, Rind, the men tried enticing the whale with cod fillets. While seemingly comfortable around humans, even allowing them to touch it, the whale wasn’t getting close enough…
In a final effort, Hesten dove into the water and undid one of the straps. Using a tool “handcrafted to free entangled whales,” he pulled on one end of the harness while Wiig pulled on the other from a rope that he’d affixed to a different strap.
“Suddenly, it was loose! First we thought that the rope had been ripped apart but then we saw the most enjoyable thing in the water: the whale was loose from the harness,” Wiig said…
Not to mention the most Norwegian quote of the week:
(My late mother-in-law emigrated from Norway. After many years of uncertainty, I don’t pretend to understand Norwegian humor, but at least I can pick up when it’s happening.)