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We had lost track of him for two years and now « Hvaldimir » was seen in Oslo. Natural call of the mating season or old spy reflex as the American aircraft carrier USS Ford arrived on site?
An incredible destiny… The first time that Hvaldimir was seen and approached by fishermen was in 2019, off the island of Ingoya, which is 400 km from Murmansk, the city where the fleet of the Russian North and its many submarines. However, the beluga wore a harness around its head, equipped with a base provided for a small camera, with on the plastic strips bearing the inscription « Equipment Saint-Petersbourg ». The Nordic authorities had concluded that the cetacean had been trained for espionage purposes in Russia.
>> In Russia, belugas used for military purposes
The hypothesis put forward was that Hvladimir had escaped from an enclosure where he would have been dragged by the Russian navy. He was obviously very used to human company, we have since found videos of him on the Internet playing ball with boaters, and he generally tended to get very close to ships. Norwegian intelligence and the press had investigated, and thanks to satellite images, had indeed discovered near Murmansk, enclosures in which dolphins, beluga whales and seals were kept captive, without it being known exactly for what kind of assignments.
In any case, Hvaldimir was released. Since he is not a good hunter, having grown up in captivity, he lived in recent years in the far north of Norway, near the large salmon farms where he managed to feed himself without too much difficulty.
A surprise arrival
But now he reappeared in Oslo last week, when the largest aircraft carrier in the world, the American USS Ford, arrived before the start of major NATO exercises. Does the beluga-spy still have some old reflexes, does he feel this nuclear aircraft carrier coming from afar? It’s surely a pure coincidence, but in any case funny enough to make the front page of Norwegian newspapers, especially since the Oslo Fjord is very far south, and very far from its natural habitat in the Arctic.
In addition, he arrived there very quickly so the biologists wonder: does he feel alone? After all, these are animals that usually live in groups, and it’s mating season. Maybe it’s the hormones that drive Hvaldimir to roam the southern Scandinavian Peninsula. In any case, the NGO following him is worried that he can no longer find enough to eat. He has obviously already lost weight. Enough to revive the debate: wouldn’t it be better to put the beluga-spy in a reserve, a sanctuary? Norway, very attached to the principle of freedom, had refused. However, the cetacean’s familiarity with humans puts it in danger, has been warning the NGO One Whale for several years, which launched the hashtag: « #protecthvaldimir ».