A beluga whale apparently trained by humans appeared on the coast of Hammerfest, Norway, in late April. Some suspected it was a Russian “spy whale.” Now, new footage reveals just how well-trained this whale really is—and indeed, how good its manners are!
The beluga was wearing a harness, which would have held a camera, when it first appeared near the Norwegian town. The harness was later cut free. It was joked in the media that the “Russian spy” was “defecting” to Norway—where it seems to have found safe harbor. Jorgen Ree Wiig, a marine expert for the Directorate of Fisheries, says it’s unlikely that the Russian military trained the whale. And so, its true origin remains unknown.
Yet, from a recent encounter, we do know just how cooperative this whale is with the locals!
Last week, Norwegian Ina Mansika decided to pay the beluga a visit while she was with a group of friends, and they had a remarkable run-in with marine mammal. The whale came to greet them at a dock, and then Mansika had a mishap; she accidentally dropped her phone into the water.
How the whale responded left everyone stunned.
“We laid down on the dock to look at it and hopefully get the chance to pat it,” Mansika told The Dodo. “I had forgotten to close my jacket pocket and my phone fell in the ocean. We assumed it would be gone forever, until the whale dove back down and came back a few moments later with my phone in its mouth!”
The whale not only located the fallen device but knew to return it to its owner—clearly a skill only an animal that was trained could possess.
Meanwhile, a bystander caught the retrieval on video, which was later posted on Instagram, so that the world could enjoy watching the “spy whale” in action.
“Everyone was so surprised. We almost didn’t believe what we saw,” Mansika said. “I was super happy and thankful that I got my phone back.”
Yet, despite the beluga’s best intentions, Mansika’s phone was beyond savable after the watery tumble. But it’s the thought that counts.
The marine mammal is clearly accustomed to humans, yet it remains a question whether it can survive in the wild. It’s able to feed itself, according to a statement from the Directorate of Fisheries. Yet, relocating it to an Iceland sanctuary is being considered. Officials say they are taking into account the whale’s best interests.