A group of Norwegian fishermen : a beluga whale wearing a harness floating in the waters just off the side of their boat. The whale seemed incredibly tame and comfortable in the presence of humans, but the harness it was wearing looked far too tight. The fishermen were concerned with the whale’s safety, so they ed a group of scientists to see if they could try and save it.
The scientists located the whale and managed to remove the harness. When they did, they spotted some text: "Equipment of St. Petersburg." The scientists believe that this whale was part of a Russian Navy project using tamed whales for reconnaissance.
If this is the case, it wouldn’t be the first time Russia has experimented with using animals for oceanic military purposes before. During the Cold War, both the U.S. and Russia trained dolphins to hunt for underwater mines and defend harbors. The U.S. discontinued most of these experiments decades ago, but in 2015 Russia was reportedly still looking for new dolphins.
Of course, beluga whales offer their own advantages.
"Belugas are ideal for operations in the Arctic where they are specially adapted to surviving in the harsh environment, says , submarine expert and author of , told Seniorhelpline. "Being relatively slow swimmers, Belugas are less suited to some marine mammal missions such as intercepting and marking enemy combat divers."
At first the Norwegian scientists suspected the whale and the harness could have been some experiment at the University of St. Petersburg, but researchers at the university confirmed they had nothing to do with it. That led the researchers to suspect the Russian Navy at Murmansk. Of course, it’s tough to know if the Russian Navy really is behind this, as they have yet to confirm anything and likely never will.
The scientists reported that the harness is probably designed to attach a GoPro or similar camera, meaning that this whale, and potentially others in the same program, are being used for surveillance. That might also explain why the whale was so friendly and got so close to the Norwegian fishing boat.