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Norwegian fishermen find beluga whale 'trained by Russian military'

30 April 2019

The Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries said "Equipment St Petersburg" was written on the harness strap, which features a mount for an action camera.

Norwegian fisherman Joar Hesten tries to attract a beluga whale swimming next to his boat off the northern Norwegian coast, before the Norwegian fishermen were able to removed the tight harness, April 26, 2019.

Video footage obtained by ABC News shows the beluga whale bobbing its head in and out of the water and behaving in a friendly manner with local fishermen.

The Guardian reported that in 2017, state-owned Russian media outlet TV Zvedzda revealed the Kremlin paid for research and training to measure the effectiveness of beluga whales, seals, and dolphins for military purposes.

Russia's military has a history of trying to weaponize whales and other sea mammals.

Norwegian fishermen are being harassed by an apparently Russian-trained Beluga whale.

Now, fishermen and scientists say this whale, which was reportedly nudging the vessel, might have been trained by Russia's navy. Russian Federation has acknowledged training sea mammals for special operations in the frigid Arctic, where the country has a major military base not far from the territory of key North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member Norway. A fisherman then went into the water and took off the harness. "Then they often seek out boats", he added.

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While marine biology professor at the Arctic University of Norway, Audun Rikardsen also told NRK that Russian researchers said they had nothing to do with them.

He said a Russian fellow scientist had told him that it was not the sort of kit that Russian scientists would use. In 2016, Russia's Ministry of Defense bought five bottlenose dolphins for $26,000.

Marine experts fear the animal has been given military-grade training by Russia's navy for underwater operations.

But the base closed after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In response to Russia's mounting belligerence in the region - and in the wake of Putin's unilateral annexation the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine - NATO held its largest war games to date in Norway last fall.

In regard to the beluga discovered last week, CBS reported, "If what the Norwegian fishermen found is evidence of a current program by Russia's military, the Norwegians and their North Atlantic Treaty Organisation partners might need to start looking for much smaller weapons of war, too - weapons with flippers".

Norwegian fishermen find beluga whale 'trained by Russian military'