IIn April, a Beluga whale with mysterious equipment appeared in the harbor in the Norwegian town of Hammerfest. Curious swam the representative of the kind Delphinapterus leucas close to fishermen as they were about to launch their nets. Later, he readily fed the cod, which the men handed him over the edge of the boat: a very unusual behavior for a whale in the wild. Apparently he was used to people. The fishermen also noticed a harness, which was strapped to the plump, white body of the whale.
One of the men released the animal from the straps. "Equipment St. Petersburg" stood in English on one of the buckles. On the straps, a device was attached to a camera or similar device could be attached. Soon, a video of the marine mammal made the rounds, the beluga became world famous. The Norwegian radio station NRK gave it the name "Hvladimir", a neologism from the Norwegian "hval" for whale and the first name of the Russian president. On his behalf, the whale was allegedly on the way: a spy of the Russian Navy.
A few days ago, a new whale video appeared, in which a beluga in Norwegian waters near the North Pole retrieves the rugby ball of a South African research team. Like a well-trained dog, the whale hurries after the ball, grabs it with its mouth and brings it back to the research ship. Whether it was also Hvladimir, is unclear, but even this whale did not seem to have met people for the first time. "For a wild Beluga, that would be a pretty bizarre behavior," says marine biologist and author Karsten Brensing. "It is typical of animals that were once in human care, that they are always looking for the proximity of humans after their release. They have learned that man is not per se dangerous. "
Spies or therapists?
Whether Hvladimir really is a military-trained spy is hard to verify. In the north of Russia, there are several facilities that hold or have kept whales. For example, belugas used to be trained in a private center as therapy animals for children with disabilities. In other cases, they are kept in basins by enterprising whalers before being shipped overseas.
Most buyers find live caught whales in China. There a real whale boom has broken out in recent years. Sea mammals can be seen in eighty Chinese oceanaria and another 27 are under construction. One of China's largest amusement park operators opened an Orca center two years ago to attract offspring. Most of the animals are from Russian waters. They are caught in the Sea of Okhotsk and then sold to China.
[tagToTranslate] Karsten Brensing