Beluga ‘Spy’ Whale Gains Celebrity Status, But Needs Protection from Humans

Hvaldimir has become a bit of a celebrity in Norway.

Jorgen Ree Wiig, Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries/Sea Surveillance Service

The Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries has issued a statement urging the public to "avoid contact" with Hvaldimir, a beloved beluga whale, to safeguard its wellbeing.

Hvaldimir gained fame in Norway in 2019 after it was sighted donning a harness designed to mount a camera, leading some experts to suggest that it might have been trained by the Russian military.

Since then, Hvaldimir has been observed swimming along the Norwegian coast and tends to frequent farms where it can catch fish and graze on surplus feed. Known to follow boats and interact with passengers, the beluga whale, a protected species, has become quite a spectacle.

However, Hvaldimir's current proximity to the densely populated inner Oslofjord increases its risk of injury from human contact.

Fisheries Director Frank Bakke-Jensen issued a statement on Wednesday, encouraging people, especially those in boats, to maintain a safe distance from Hvaldimir. "Even though the whale is tame and used to being around people," Bakke-Jensen warned that close encounters could potentially harm or even kill the whale due to boat traffic.

Bakke-Jensen revealed that, although the directorate has not previously considered confining Hvaldimir, its present vulnerable location and possible limited access to food have compelled them to consider various protective measures. He emphasized, however, that no firm decisions have been made yet.

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