A beluga whale, which has delighted locals by swimming near Hammerfest, Norway appears to have been trained, with videos posted on social media showing it performing tricks.
The friendlier-than-normal mammal has been allowing people to pet it and is unusually comfortable with humans being nearby, according to CNN, citing Norwegian locals.
A beluga whale believed by marine experts to have been trained by the Russian military is enjoying its stay in Norway — and the locals are loving it, too https://t.co/LeJ1q3qxHY pic.twitter.com/FtAGSp91qb— CNN (@CNN) May 4, 2019
Particularly, footage posted online show the begula whale being fed by hand, dancing in circles and even checking out an inquisitive dog.
Although speculation about its origins is rife, Norwegian police have yet to confirm where the mammal came from.
A #beluga #whale was spotted in #Norway wearing an odd harness with “Equipment of St. Petersburg” written on the inside.— Dolphin Project (@Dolphin_Project) April 30, 2019
The harness was thankfully removed.
Locals speculate the whale may have escaped captivity, but are unsure how.
Video- IG:@norge IG:@wiiiig#DolphinProject pic.twitter.com/CzrqsjhUf5
First spotted off the coast of Norway by fisherman last week, the whale has since refused to leave the vicinity of Hammerfest’s port.
“[The Russian navy has] been known to train belugas to conduct military operations before, like guarding naval bases, helping divers, finding lost equipment,” Jorgen Ree Wiig, a marine biologist at Norway’s Directorate of Fisheries, told CNN.
However, as fears mount regarding the mammal’s health, Audun Rikardsenl of Tromso’s Arctic University told NRK, Norway’s public broadcaster, that it’s concerning how it will manage on its own. “We know whales released from an aquarium can find it difficult to adapt to life in the wild.”
Claiming they now felt a responsibility for the whale’s well-being, Mr. Ree Wiig told the broadcaster that the fisheries directorate would keep track of the mammal.
There have been suggestions, according to Wiig, that the sea mammal be sent to a sanctuary in Iceland about 2,000 km away, since this is believed to improve its chances for survival.
The beluga whale, which is pale white and larger than a dolphin but smaller than a true whale, is an Arctic and sub-Arctic species and a close relative of the narwhal.
Belugas are one of several whale species which are commonly kept in captivity and at aquariums, dolphinariums, and wildlife parks across the globe.