Fishermen off Norway's northern coast were astonished last week when they spotted a beluga whale wearing a harness, complete with mounts for a camera.
An image taken by Jørgen Ree Wiig of the Norwegian Director of Fisheries shows a white whale wearing a harness as it swims next to a Norwegian fishing boat.
Spokesman Joergen Ree Wiig said fishermen in Arctic Norway reported seeing the tame white cetacean with a tight harness swimming around last week.
"A Russian colleague said they don't do such experiments, but she knows the navy has caught belugas for some years and trained them - most likely it's related to that", he said.More news: Ocasio-Cortez shoots back at Kellyanne Conway after her Sri Lanka comments
"If this whale comes from Russia-and there is great reason to believe it-then it is not Russian scientists, but rather the navy that has done this,"Martin Biuw of the Institute of Marine Research in Norway, said, according to the news outlet".
And Audun Rikardsen, a professor at the Arctic University of Norway, told the broadcaster: "We know that in Russian Federation they have had domestic whales in captivity and also that some of these have apparently been released".
It wasn't clear what, if anything, the animal was being trained for or if it was involved in a military exercise in the region.
While Hesten had never seen the strangely harnessed whale before, other fishermen in the area had reported sightings of the animal, and the whale's seemingly purposeful interactions with the fishing boats might have even been an attempt to rid itself of the harness tied around it. "Then they often seek out boats".More news: Sally Yates: If Trump Weren't President, 'He Would Likely Be Indicted On Obstruction'
Professor Rikardsen said he checked with scholars in Russian Federation and Norway, and they said they had not reported any program or experiments using beluga whales.
Prof Rikardsen, who teaches at the University of Tromso, said "belugas, like dolphins and killer whales, are quite intelligent - they are Arctic animals and quite social, they can be trained like a dog".
While some of that history is contentious, recent media reports out of Russian Federation suggest the Putin regime is still interested in training whales, dolphins, and even seals for military purposes. Government public records records show that the defence ministry purchased five bottle-nosed dolphins, aged between three and five, from Moscow's Utrish Dolphinarium in 2016 at a cost of £18,000.More news: Big Ben Got Stuck on the Finish Line at the London Marathon