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Joergen Ree Wiig, Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries Sea Surveillance Unit
A beluga whale, found off the northern Norwegian coast, swims next to a fishing boat before Norwegian fishermen removed the tight harness, Friday, April 26, 2019. The harness strap, which features a mount for an action camera, says "Equipment St. Petersburg," which has prompted speculation that the animal may have escaped from a Russian military facility.

SALT LAKE CITY — Marine experts say that a recently discovered beluga whale may be working for the Russian military, CNN reports.

Fishermen off Norway’s northern coast found the beluga whale wearing a harness last week. The whale had a mounted camera on its head, according to CBS News. The fishermen found the whale swimming alongside their ship and nudging against it, Norwegian state broadcaster NRK reported.

  • "We were going to put out nets when we saw a whale swimming between the boats," fisherman Joar Hesten said, according to NRK. "It came over to us, and as it approached, we saw that it had some sort of harness on it."

Marine experts suggest the beluga whale may be working for the Russia military.

  • "The whale seemed playful but our instincts said that it was also asking for help to get out of the harness,” Jorgen Ree Wiig, a marine biologist, told CNN.

Wiig said the harness was “specially made” and it wore "mounts for GoPro cameras on each side of it.” Wiig added that the animal is “a trained animal.” The harness included the phrase "Equipment St. Petersburg."

Martin Biuw, a marine mammal researcher at Norway's Institute of Marine Research, told CNNthat the footage of the whale convinced him it's a trained animal.

  • "It's quite clear that the whale is searching out the boat, and that it's used to being around boats. The whale is coming up with its head above the water, opening its mouth, which suggests that it's expecting to be fed fish as a reward."
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Audun Rikardsen, a professor at the Department of Arctic and Marine Biology at the Arctic University of Norway in Tromsoe, told The Associated Press that he asked scholars in Russia and Norway about the animal and said neither country has been experimenting with beluga whales.

  • "This is a tame animal that is used to get food served, so that is why it has made contacts with the fishermen," he said. "The question is now whether it can survive by finding food by itself. We have seen cases where other whales that have been in Russian captivity doing fine."