Mysterious 'Spy' Whale Surfaces Off The Coast of Sweden

An group keeping track of a harness-wearing Beluga whale that surfaced in Norway in 2019 and sparked rumors that it was a spy trained by the Russian military has surfaced near the coast of Sweden, the organization stated on Monday.

The whale was first spotted in Finnmark, a remote area of far-northern Norway, and it spent more than three years slowly traveling down the top half of the Norwegian coastline before abruptly accelerating in recent months to cover the bottom half and continue to Sweden.

He was seen on Sunday at Hunnebostrand, off the southwest coast of Sweden.

Since he is currently going "very quickly away from his natural environment," Sebastian Strand, a marine scientist with the OneWhale group, told AFP, "We don't know why he has sped up so fast."

"Hormones could be pushing him to locate a partner. He could be looking for other Beluga whales, as they are a particularly gregarious species, or it might just be because he's lonely.

According to Strand, the whale is "at an age where his hormones are very high" and is thought to be 13 to 14 years old.​

The Svalbard island in Norway's extreme north is home to the nearest colony of beluga whales, though.

Since the whale arrived in Norway in April 2019, it is thought that it has not even glimpsed a single Beluga.

The Norwegians dubbed it "Hvaldimir" in reference to its supposed ties to Russia and as a play on the Norwegian term for "whale," hval.

Marine researchers from the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries removed an attached synthetic harness when he initially surfaced in Norway's Arctic.

The plastic clasps of the harness were imprinted with "Equipment St. Petersburg" and contained a mount for an action camera.

According to Directorate authorities, Hvaldimir may have escaped from a cage and been taught by the Russian navy because it seemed habituated to people.

His potential status as a "Russian spy" was raised by the Norwegian government, but Moscow never responded officially.

Western and Russian submarine movements are seen in the Barents Sea, a strategically important geopolitical region.​

Additionally, it serves as the entry point to the Northern Route, which speeds up nautical trips between the Atlantic and Pacific seas.

While consuming wild fish underneath Norway's salmon farms, Strand reported that the whale's health "seemed to be very good" in recent years.

However, his organization had already seen considerable weight loss and was worried about Hvaldimir's capacity to get food in Sweden.

Beluga whales typically live between 40 and 60 years old and may grow as large as six meters (20 feet). They are found in the frigid waters between Greenland, northern Norway, and Russia.