Norway asks people to keep distance from ‘spy’ whale to ensure animal’s safety
Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries appealed to people to “avoid contact" with a beluga whale so that the animal doesn't suffer any injuries accidentally or lose her life.
The whale, who has been given the nickname "Hvaldimir", received international fame in 2019 after someone spotted it wearing a specially made harness which had mounts for a camera. The discovery made experts believe that the whale is likely to have been trained by the Russian military.
Since 2019, the whale has “been travelling along the Norwegian coast” and stopping at some point along the way, as per the directorate, which further stated that Hvaldimir “tends to stay at farms where it has been able to catch fish, grazing on surplus feed.”
Hvaldimir is famous for following boats and playing with people on board. The whale, which is Norway's protected species, stays in inner Oslofjord, said the directorate.
This “means that it has arrived in a very densely populated area, and the risk that the whale may be injured due to human contact has become significantly greater,” it further stated.
Whale suffered minor injuries, says fisheries director
Fisheries Director Frank Bakke-Jensen, in a statement on Wednesday, said that “so far there have only been minor incidents where the whale has suffered minor injuries, primarily from contact with boats.”
However, he appealed people to maintain their distance, “even though the whale is tame and used to being around people.”
“We especially encourage people in boats to keep a good distance to avoid the whale being injured or, in the worst case, killed by boat traffic,” stated Bakke-Jensen.
Considering the dangers, Bakke-Jensen was asked if the whale should be kept in captivity.
“We have always communicated that the whale in question is a free-living animal and we see no reason to capture it and put it behind barriers,” he stated.
However, now that the whale is “in a more vulnerable area and access to food may be limited, we will consider different measures. But it is too early to say anything concrete about that yet," added Bakke-Jensen.
The movements of the whale will be monitored by the Directorate of Fisheries as they will hope it turns around after reaching the end of the Oslofjord.
In 2019, experts stated that Hvaldimir is a trained animal, and according to evidence, the animal has come from Russia.
Marine biologist at Norway’s Directorate of Fisheries Jorgen Ree Wiig said that the harness appeared “specially made” and had “mounts for GoPro cameras on each side of it.”