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Whale with Mysterious Harness May Be Long-Lost Russian Experiment

Since the dawn of warfare as we know it today, humans have been using animals as tools of war. Elephants, horses, and other pack animals have been used to carry loads for thousands of years, while fiercer predators like dogs and lions have at times been used to inflict damage on enemies. Later, as human communication media shrank in the early 20th century, we began using animals like pigeons or dogs to carry messages for us through areas where human soldiers could not travel. Given that animals have always been an integral part of human existence, it’s natural they would be a part of warfare, too

More recently, there have been allegations that some nations have previously used or are still using animals as spies. Dolphins, in particular, have indeed been used for bomb detection and marine reconnaissance thanks to their high degree of intelligence and cooperation with humans.

Soviet Navy training a dolphin in the port of Sevastopol.

While this particular use of dolphins has stayed relatively obscure, a new report published by The Guardian this week highlights the military use of aquatic mammals – this time whales – and may suggest that some of them may have gotten loose of their training grounds or were turned loose into the ocean years ago. What would happen if these highly-trained animals did indeed escape back into the wild? Isn’t this how the Planet of the Apes reboot started?

According to The Guardian, fisherman in the small Norwegian fishing village of Inga have in recent weeks been harassed by a mysterious white beluga whale wearing an unidentified harness or apparatus of some kind. The whale reportedly attacks the fishermen’s boats, rubbing itself against their boats in an attempt to remove the strange harness attached to it. The fishermen claim the whale appears to deliberately seek out their boats before engaging in the anomalous behavior. 

Beluga whale

Beluga whale

The harness the whale wears appears to have been made to carry a camera or some other type of equipment – or maybe a weapon. Pictures posted by Norwegian news site NRK show a strange metal object recovered with the harness, which was eventually cut off by fishermen. To make things stranger, some fishermen have even gotten close enough to inspect the harness device the whale is wearing and say it bears the words “Equipment” and “St. Petersburg.” Norwegian biologists have contacted marine biology laboratories in Russia for answers, but all of them seem to want to point the finger at the Russian Navy and deny all knowledge.

As it turns out, Russia’s Navy along with the Murmansk Sea Biology Research Institute carried out a research program during the height of the Cold War which attempted to train beluga whales to guard entrances to ports or underwater bases and attack any intruders who came close. Could this be one of those long-lost whales?