Given the punny nickname of Hvaldimir by Norwegians (because of hval being Norwegian for ‘whale’ and Vladimir being the first name of Russian president Putin), the whale already went viral back in November 2019 when he was filmed playing ‘fetch’ with South African rugby fans.
In his first recorded sighting, in April 2019, Hvaldimir was spotted with a harness attached to his body and a label saying “equipment of Saint Petersburg”.
It sure sounds ‘fishy’ (sorry).
Another clip showed the animal returning an iPhone to a woman after it fell out of her pocket into the sea off the coast of Norway in May 2019.
Apparently, according to the OneWhale organisation – which is dedicated to tracking Hvaldimir specifically – he’s believed to be about 13 or 14 years old, an age where “his hormones are very high”.
The whale was spotted in a malnourished state in Hunnebostrand, off Sweden’s southwestern coast, on Sunday, after spending more than three years moving down the top half of the coastline of Norway, before picking up speed to do the second half and move on to the neighbouring country of Sweden.
Marine biologist Sebastian Strand, of OneWhale, said: “We don’t know why he has sped up so fast right now.
“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.”
Rumours Hvaldimir is a spy whale trained by the Russian navy appear to come from the fact he is accustomed to humans, but the Hvaldimir Foundation said it may be that it became dependent on humans due to hand-feeding.
They added he does not appear to be able to successfully hunt and feed for itself.
Weirdly, the Russian military have actually commented on the speculation about Hvaldimir, with a spokesperson denying the beluga whale was connected to a training programme back in April.
They did, however, acknowledge that dolphins are sometimes used for military purposes.
We wish we were joking.
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