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International spies have come a long way since James Bond during the Cold War era. The expectations of being handsome and suave are no longer necessary. As long as you're packed with blubber and can swim long distances, you too may be drafted into the exciting world of espionage!
What in the heck are we talking about? This: A beluga whale, suspected of being be a "spy whale" from Russia, showed up in the Norwegian port city of Hammerfest and is now refusing to vacate the premises, reports The Washington Post.
While beluga whales are known for being shy creatures, this one has no objections to a friendly pat on the nose from locals. According to Jorgen Ree Wiig, an official for the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries, such behavior is very "strange" for this type of animal, per the news outlet. Maybe this one learned how to be more sociable during his spycraft training.
The alleged spy whale was spotted last week when fishermen began to notice that it was "harassing" their boats. Upon closer inspection, they discovered a harness around the its body, printed with the words “Equipment St. Petersburg.” The harness, which could, in theory, carry cameras or weapons, was handed over to Norway's Police Security Force for further investigation.
“We must admit that examining technical equipment attached to whales is not a daily occurrence for PST. It is unclear if we will find anything,” said Martin Bernsen, a communications adviser for the PST. “The whale is not a suspect in our investigation, for now.”
Using sea mammals for strategic purposes is not so far-fetched as one might think; in fact, its a concept that dates all the way back to the 1950s. For example, the U.S. navy utilizes sea lions and dolphins to detect underwater mines or retrieve objects from depths that would kill a normal human being. Currently, however, no marine life is used for offensive purposes. Russia's Defense Ministry has officially denied that it is undertaking any kind of sea-mammal spy program, although it did try to buy two female bottlenose dolphins in 2016 for $24,000.
Norway's Police Security Service say that the beluga is, at this very moment, “cruising around outside the city of Hammerfest.” Not named yet, the majestic creature may be relocated to a sanctuary in Iceland, which can be found just over 1,000 miles from Hammerfest.