SALT LAKE CITY — A beluga whale allegedly trained by the Russian navy has returned.
According to the Dodo, a woman in Hammerfest, Norway, accidentally dropped her phone in the ocean. Ina Maniska said she and her friends had visited the waterfront to find the beluga whale, which appeared near Hammerfest a few weeks ago.
Maniska accidentally dropped her phone into the ocean, and the whale dove down to catch it. It resurfaced a few minutes later with the phone in its mouth. The incident was captured on Instagram by one of Maniska’s friends, where it’s gotten over 19,000 likes.
The beluga’s original attire — a harness with “Equipment St. Petersburg” printed on it — initially drew suspicion that the whale had been trained by the Russian Navy as a maritime “spy.Comment on this story
The harness could have potentially held a camera or weapon, but the Russian Defense Ministry has denied using sea animals for military purposes, according to the The Washington Post. The harness was taken off the whale and turned in to Norway’s Police Security Service.
The Post also reports that while belugas are generally shy, isolation can cause them to be more trusting, which can definitely be seen in its interactions with Maniska and others in Hammerfest.
According to German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, the beluga may have been used as a therapy animal for special needs children and could have been trained to be social. DW also reports that Norwegian officials are considering sending the beluga to a whale reserve in Iceland.