A beluga with a harness. This must be a military whale, Norwegians thought when the animal surfaced in their waters. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.

This is the property of St. Petersburg a sign on the beluga read which fishermen saw swimming around their boat in May, just off the coast of northern Norway. The creature even picked up a phone from the water.

Soon wild theories emerged. It was supposed to be a Russian military spy, ready to drop bombs and such. After all, it would not be the first time that such training came to light. The US Navy uses dolphins to discover mines and the Russia is also known to have a similar project. Some sources even say that Russian has been training dolphins and seals to attack enemy divers.

But in the case of the beluga surfacing in Norway this doesn’t seem through. According to the former consul for Norway in Murmansk the animal was already around in 2008, helping children to release their emotions.

Dubbed Vladimir by the Norwegian the beluga’s real name is supposed to be Semjon. Now that he apparently escaped and is free Norwegian authorities seem to let him be, keeping an eye every now and then on his wellbeing.

>> Listen to my radio chat in Dutch in Nieuwe feiten on Belgian Radio 1, on 14 May 2019, together with show host Lieven Vandenhaute.

Featured image: Steve Snodgrass