Beluga whale with Russian harness raises alarm in Norway

29 Avril, 2019, 18:00 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Experts believe a beluga whale spotted off the coast of Norway was trained by the Russian navy

Hesten told Norwegian broadcaster NRK that the whale began to rub itself again his boat when he first spotted it.

Mr Wiig said "people in Norway's military have shown great interest" in the harness.

The Russian military is reportedly renewing its Cold War-era training of marine mammals, considering such animals useful tools in defending naval bases, assisting military divers and even attacking intruders, The Guardian explained.

Russia's Northern Fleet is stationed in Murmansk on the Kola Peninsula on the coast of the Barents Sea in the far northwest of Russian Federation. Inside the harness, which has now been removed from the whale, were the words "Equipment of St. Petersburg".

Said Audun Rikardsen, professor at the department of arctic and marine biology at the Arctic University of Norway: "We know that in Russian Federation they have had domestic whales in captivity and also that some of these have apparently been released. Then they often seek out boats", he added.

Russian Federation does not have a history of using whales for military purposes but the Soviet Union had a full-fledged training program for dolphins.

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This mammal programme closed in the 1990s.

Norway's Directorate of Fisheries also shared photos of the whale with straps around its body on social media around.

Mr Rikardsen also told NRK that he had spoke to his Russian who said they are unaware of any projects involving beluga whales. Meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin has been expanding Russia's military footprint in the Arctic, opening new bases to demonstrate Moscow's intention to dominate the region. But further research has since expanded to include beluga whales, seals and more dolphins, according to a 2017 report by the Russian defense ministry-owned TV Zvezda broadcaster.

That, Norwegian joint force commander Lt. Gen. Rune Jakobsen told Martin, is "not something you should do to your neighbor".

As Martin reported, Norway shares a 120-mile border with Russian Federation, and its long Arctic coastline includes the closest points on European soil to the base of Russia's northern fleet, with its naval bases, airfields and nuclear weapons storage sites.

If what the Norwegian fishermen found is evidence of a current program by Russia's military, the Norwegians and their North Atlantic Treaty Organisation partners might need to start looking for much smaller weapons of war, too - weapons with flippers.

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