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Deemed ‘spy’, the sensational Beluga whale moves from Norway to Sweden

First spotted in Norway in 2019 this Beluga whale has now moved to Sweden (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@@selshevneren)

While whales usually attract the attention of both common people and lovers of marine wildlife, this Beluga whale is different and special.

As per a report in sciencealert.com, this harness-wearing creature that had created headlines and sensation when it was spotted in 2019 in Norway as it was thought to be a spy trained by Russia Navy has now been spotted in Sweden.

This has been confirmed by an organisation that has been following the mammal’s movements.

He was first seen in Finnmark – Norway’s far northern region – and it took three years moving slowly on the Norwegian coastline. It then in a flash speeded up and popped up in Sweden. Last Sunday, he was cited at Sweden’s southwestern coast in Hunnebostrand.

The mammal was christened as “Hvaldimir” using the word hval which in Norwegian means whale and valdimir to denote its Russian connection.

Talking about why Hvaldimir moved so quickly, Sebastian Strand, a marine biologist in OneWhale organisation said: “We don’t know why he has sped up so fast right now,” especially since he is moving “very quickly away from his natural environment.”

Offering an explanation, Strand said: “It could be hormones driving him to find a mate. Or it could be loneliness as Belugas are a very social species – it could be that he’s searching for other Beluga whales.”

The creature is thought to be between 13 and 14 years of age, a period when its hormones are very high. However, the Belugas population which is nearest to this individual is in the Svalbard archipelago which is situated in Norway’s far north.

Interestingly, experts said that he had not met a single Beluga ever since it came to Norway in April 2019.

On his appearance in Norway, the marine biologists from the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries took off the attached man-made harness. It looked suitable to mount an action camera and on it was printed “Equipment St. Petersburg”.

NDF officials suggested that Hvaldimir may have escaped from an enclosure which houses whales trained by the Russian Navy. Interestingly, Russia has never reacted to these suggestions.

While in Norway, the whale’s health was good as it foraged wild fish but in Sweden it has been observed to have suffered some weight loss.

This species of whales can attain a size of 20 feet and live between 40 and 60 years of age. They are found in icy waters around northern Norway, Russia and Greenland.