Beluga Whale Filmed Wearing Harness May Have Escaped Russian Military Facility

Fisherman, Joar Hesten told Norwegian broadcaster NRK that the whale seemed used to human contact.

The stunned sailors captured the moment the Beluga Whale approached their boat wearing a harness, which had 'Equipment of St. Petersburg' written across it. The animal repeatedly nudged up against the boats, when one crew noticed the beluga was wearing a tight harness.

Mr Ree Wiig said "people in Norway's military have shown great interest" in the harness.

A fisheries service employee in a wetsuit was finally able to remove the harness in the water once he arrived at the boat.

The Guardian reported that in 2017, state-owned Russian media outlet TV Zvedzda revealed the Kremlin paid for research and training to measure the effectiveness of beluga whales, seals, and dolphins for military purposes. Russian Federation has acknowledged training sea mammals for special operations in the frigid Arctic, where the country has a major military base not far from the territory of key North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member Norway.

It's being reported that the Russian military is believed to have trained sea mammals.

"I wouldn't say the [whale's] behavior is normal, even though whales from time to time are curious and friendly", Martin Biuw, of the Institute of Marine Research in Norway, told the AP.

Audun Rikardsen, a professor at the Department of Arctic and Marine Biology at the Arctic University of Norway in Tromsoe, northern Norway, believes "it is most likely that Russian Navy in Murmansk" is involved.

"We know that in Russian Federation they have had domestic whales in captivity and also that some of these have apparently been released", he said. The whale was reportedly seeking out boats and trying to pull straps on them. "I don't see why they would equip those whales with harnesses", he told ABC News.

Rikardsen said he had checked with scholars in Russian Federation and Norway and said they have not reported any program or experiments using beluga whales.

The Russian Defense Ministry published a public tender in 2016 to purchase five dolphins for a training program.

In 1980s Soviet Russia, a programme saw dolphins recruited for military training, their razor-sharp vision, stealth and good memory making them them effective underwater tools for detecting weapons.

"All I know is that both Russian and US military have had active marine mammal programs in the past, but I have no detailed knowledge".