Officials in Norway are investigating after a beluga whale was found wearing a tight harness, prompting speculation the animal may have escaped from a Russian military facility.
The Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries said ‘Equipment St Petersburg’ was written on the harness strap, which features a mount for an action camera.
Spokesman Joergen Ree Wiig said fishermen in Norway last week reported the tame white cetacean with a tight harness swimming around.
It was reported to have been ‘harassing’ fishing boats in the Arctic Circle, biting their nets and headbutting the boats.
Fisherman Joar Hesten told local reporters: ‘We were going to put out nets when we saw a whale swimming between the boats.
‘It came over to us and, as it approached, we saw that it had some sort of harness on it.’
On Friday, a fisherman jumped into the frigid water to remove the harness. Mr Wiig said ‘people in Norway’s military have shown great interest’ in the harness.
Norway’s Aftenposten newspaper reported that the Russian military is believed to have trained sea mammals.
Arctic University spokesman Audun Rikardsen told Norwegian broadcaster NRK: ‘We know that in Russia they have had domestic whales in captivity and also that some of these have apparently been released. Then they often seek out boats.’