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An alleged Russian spy whale turned up in Sweden. Why?

By Bryan Pietsch

30 May 2023 · 3 min read

informed Summary

  1. Hvaldimir is a beluga whale who was first spotted in 2019 wearing a harness with Russian inscriptions, sparking suspicions that he was part of a Russian navy program training aquatic mammals for intelligence purposes.

The alleged former Russian spy has spent the past few years bumming around the Norwegian coast, where he made friends with locals and became known for his toothy grin. He's recently turned up in Sweden, where local authorities have welcomed him even as they figure out what to do with him. He's also a whale.

The beluga whale, named Hvaldimir - a pun on his ostensibly Russian heritage and "hval," the Norwegian word for whale - was spotted in Swedish waters, according to the nonprofit OneWhale, which advocates for Hvaldimir. The group said Monday it was in contact with Swedish authorities, who it said had "quickly taken action to care for the whale." Regina Haug, OneWhale's founder, said in a statement that Swedish authorities had "even closed a bridge to protect him."

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