Norway warning civilians to stay away from Russian 'spy whale'
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A Norwegian port authority is warning people to keep their distance from a whale, which is believed by some to be a Russian spy.
Nothing says 'Cold War' quite like strapping a camera to an arctic whale, right?
Although it might sound more like something out of a outlandish spy thriller, astonishingly it is not entirely impossible that there is a Russian-trained spy whale swimming around Norway.
Quite what benefit could be gained from such an operation isn't clear.
Nonetheless, when Hvaldimir the Beluga was first encountered, he was found wearing what appeared to be a camera harness. To add to suspicions, the harness had 'equipment St Petersburg' written on the clip. Surely such an obvious giveaway would be beneath the highly-trained minds at KGB successor the FSB?
Maybe the give-away was some sort of advanced 3d-chess move thinking 57 moves ahead, beyond the comprehension of mere mortals. Maybe.
It's not just the harness which has been a giveaway either, as biologists have claimed that Hvaldimir is trained, saying it's 'undoubtable'.
They also pointed out that the Russian military has conducted such operations in the past.
Hvaldimir - whose name is a portmanteau of the Norwegian 'Hval' for whale and 'Vladimir' - has now become a regular sight in the Norwegian harbour of Hammerfest.
But the harbour now features a placard advising visitors to stay away from Hvaldimir.
However, this isn't because they're nervous that the Beluga is about to dart a visiting foreign dignitary and abscond with them to Moscow. It's actually about making sure that Hvaldimir is kept safe and healthy.
Director Frank Bakke-Jensen of the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries said in a statement: "We especially encourage people in boats to keep a good distance to avoid the whale being injured or, in the worst case, killed by boat traffic."
He added that the Beluga has already had some close calls with boats, suffering some minor injuries. The caution is not without good reason, as ship strikes are a common cause of death for whales.
Other rules with Hvaldimir include not feeding him, as his diet is monitored by the port. They also advise people not to approach him as he 'likes to play' but could bring things down into the water with him.
If he got hold of a person, that could be dangerous.
Secret services have a long and ignoble history of using animals to spy. The CIA's disastrous 'Operation Acoustic Kitty' saw operatives surgically implanting listening devices into a cat.
There was only one problem, however, as cats aren't exactly known for being co-operative, or for their road sense. After years of development and spending the cyborg cat was sent to spy, only to be run over by a taxi.
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