People warned to stay away from ‘Russian spy whale’ trained by Putin’s military

People have been warned to stay away from a Russian spy whale thought to have been trained by Vladimir Putin's military.

Hvaldimir, a male beluga whale, first made headlines in 2019 when he was spotted by fishermen in Hammerfest, Norway, wearing a camera harness.

The harness was labelled "Equipment of St Petersburg", and the whale had been rubbing himself against boats in a bid to get rid of it.

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Experts at the time told CNN the animal had been trained. He was also sociable with humans, leading to the conclusion Hvaldimir was actually a Russian spy whale.

According to the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries, since 2019 the whale has "been travelling along the Norwegian coast" and "tends to stay at farms where it has been able to catch fish, grazing on surplus feed".

The directorate said he now lives in inner Oslofjord.

In a statement on Wednesday (May 24), Fisheries Director Frank Bakke-Jensen warned locals to avoid contact with Hvaldimir for his own safety.

"So far there have only been minor incidents where the whale has suffered minor injuries, primarily from contact with boats," he said.

"We especially encourage people in boats to keep a good distance to avoid the whale being injured or, in the worst case, killed by boat traffic."

Perhaps as a result of coming into contact with humans while being trained by Putin's Kremlin thugs, Hvaldimir is too friendly for his own good and has been known to follow boats and play with the people on board.

There have been conversations about placing him in captivity, but Bakke-Jensen dismissed the idea this week.

He said: "We have always communicated that the whale in question is a free-living animal and we see no reason to capture it and put it behind barriers."

He did however add: "In a more vulnerable area and access to food may be limited, we will consider different measures."

Jorgen Ree Wiig, a marine biologist at Norway’s Directorate of Fisheries, previously told CNN the Russian Navy has "been known to train belugas to conduct military operations before".

They participate in activities such as "guarding naval bases, helping divers, finding lost equipment", he added.

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