Fishermen working in the Barents Sea, along the Norwegian coast came across a beluga whale wearing a harness. Norway authorities suspect the animal is part of a Russian based programme using sea mammals as a special operations naval force.
Could it be a Russian agent?
A beluga whale, spotted of the coast of the island of Ingøya, has intrigued Norwegian authorities. The whale which is normally fearful of humans, uncharacteristically started harassing a fishing boat. Attached to the whale was a harness with the inscription “Equipment of St. Petersburg”. The unusual Russian-made harness seemed to be capable of fitting a camera or a weapon. Authorities believe that whales, like this beluga, are recruited and trained as auxiliaries of war by a Kremlin naval programme.
Audun Rikardsen, a researcher from Tromsø University in Norway, explains that no scientist would fit a harness like this to a whale. According to the researcher, he has contacted Russian researchers and they have confirmed that they do not carry out these sorts of experiments. However he states that, “They tell me that most likely is the Russian navy in Murmansk.”
A relaunched naval programme
Unusual as this story might seem, it is not the first time sea mammals have been used for military purposes. During the Cold War from 1960 s, the Soviets and Americans used the stealth and intelligence of seals and dolphins to place and detect underwater mines and torpedoes.
Although the programme supposedly shut down in 1990, media reports from TV Zvezda suggest that the Poutine regime is still interested in using marine mammals for naval intelligence. According to the media report these mammals could be trained to guard naval base entrances and assist deep sea divers to protect territories. It is believed that a naval research base has been reopened in the Murmansk region near to the Norwegian border.
Russian scientists confirmed last week that tests have been carried out, only strengthening the argument that this beluga whale comes from a Russian naval programme. “There is an institute in St. Petersburg that cooperates with the military in studying animals for applied purposes, and it works in the Cossack Bay on the Black Sea and in Murmansk,” confirmed Dmitry Glazov, the deputy head of the Beluga program at the AN Severtsov Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences,to Interfax News Service
The harness is no longer attached to the beluga whale after a fisherman dived in to remove it. However the whale is uncharacteristically tame so it remains to be seen whether the whale can return to a normal life.