Fisherman in northern Norway have found a friendly Beluga “spy whale” in a camera harness who scientists believe escaped from the Russian navy.
The incident comes as Russia’s growing military activity in the Arctic raises concerns with Nato and its allies.
Three brothers were fishing off the island of Ingøya not far from Norway’s Arctic border with Russia on Thursday when a small white whale came up to their boat, apparently seeking help to remove the snug harness it was wearing.
The Beluga had previously approached other fishermen trying to rub the straps off, they told the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation.
A fisheries service employee in a wetsuit was finally able to remove the harness in the water once he arrived at the boat. The Beluga then swam away.
Photographs revealed that “Equipment St Petersburg” was written on the buckle of the harness, which had an attachment to hold a GoPro camera.
Audun Rikardsen, a professor at the Norwegian Arctic University, said he had contacted Russian colleagues, and neither Russian nor Norwegian scientists had put the harness on the whale.