Enigmatic Beluga whale off Norway staying near humans

May 2, 2019
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In this photo taken on Monday, April 29, 2019, Linn Saether poses with a beluga whale, days after a fisherman removed a harness with a mount for camera from the mammal, in Tufjord, Norway. A beluga whale found in Arctic Norway with a tight harness that is believed to have links to a military facility in Russia is so tame that it allows locals to pet the mammal on its nose, resident Linn Saether said Tuesday. The white whale has been frolicking in the frigid harbor of Tufjord, a hamlet near Norway's northernmost point, and has become a local attraction. (Linn Saether via AP)

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A beluga whale found in Arctic Norway wearing a harness that suggests links to Russia appears to be enjoying staying near humans.

Joergen Ree Wiig, of the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries, told The Associated Press “it was the first thing I saw” when looking out of his office window Thursday in Hammerfest, a harbor near Norway’s northernmost point. He said: “I thought I was dreaming.”

The tame whale was first spotted last week wearing a tight harness with a camera mount and “equipment St. Petersburg” written on the strap. It’s still unclear why the strap was attached to the mammal or whether it was part of any Russian military activity in the region.

Residents have been able to pet the mammal on its nose in recent days.

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