A Beluga whale went viral after video showed him playing fetch with a rugby team. People were amazed at how friendly the whale was, but a closer glance showed that the mammal had on a vest on that read: “Equipment St. Petersburg.” Many assumed it was proof that the whale had been trained by Russian intelligence.
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As cute as the video may be, researchers are trying to get people to steer clear of the whale until it can reacclimate itself to being in the water and hunting for itself. These researchers are under the impression that these animals were probably raised and fed in captivity and may have trouble relying on themselves.
The researchers believe it was part of the reason why the Beluga approached the boat in the first place. Several scientists stated the animal looked malnourished.
“These actions perpetuate habituation of the whale and reduce his chances to feed for himself, and are contrary to Norwegian efforts to rehabilitate the whale,” said whale biologist Jackie Hildering after seeing the viral video.
According to The Guardian, Belugas were believed to have been tasked by Russia with killing anyone who was swimming in the waters near Russian bases.
Professor Audun Rikardsen of the Arctic University of Norway explained his understanding of the matter: “We know that in Russia they have had domestic whales in captivity and also that some of these have apparently been released. Then they often seek out boats.”
In addition to wanting the whale to reacclimate to hunting in the wild, researchers are worried that this Buluga could end up like Luna, the killer whale, who was killed by a propeller after she got too close to a boat after playing with someone on the boat, IFLScience reported.
This isn’t the first time that this Beluga whale has been caught being playful with humans. Earlier this year, a video was posted of two people playing with the same Beluga.
As they played, one of the guys bent over the railing of the boat and his phone dropped out and into the frigid water below. To the amazement of all, the whale swam down and retrieved the phone.