By Elizabeth Preske
May 09, 2019

Since April 26, a suspected Russian spy has been hanging around the Norwegian port city of Hammerfest.

The spy also just so happens to be a beluga whale.

The beluga first drew the attention of Norwegian fishermen after it kept popping up and following them around in their boats, reported The Washington Post. The fishermen noticed that it was wearing a harness, later found to contain the inscription “Equipment St. Petersburg.”

Getty Images

Even though Norway’s Police Security Service (PST) assures The Washington Post that “the whale is not a suspect in [their] investigation,” speculation remains that the animal has been trained by the Russian navy. Whether or not this is true, it appears as if the whale has “clearly been trained under the care of humans for a good long time,” said Catherine Kinsman, co-founder of the Canadian Whale Stewardship Project.

The beluga’s odd behavior has certainly made it an international superstar. Whereas white belugas are generally shy around people, this particular one is acting out of character for its species. Seeming to completely adore all the attention it's getting, the Hammerfest celebrity is allowing residents to pet, feed, and take selfies with it.

That includes Ina Mansika and a group of her friends. According to The Dodo, she wanted to see the beluga for herself, and learned firsthand just how eager-to-please the animal can be.

“We laid down on the dock to look at it and hopefully get the chance to pat it,” Ina Mansika told The Dodo. “I had forgotten to close my jacket pocket and my phone fell in the ocean. We assumed it would be gone forever, until the whale dove back down and came back a few moments later with my phone in its mouth!”

You can see the sweet moment in the video below.

“Everyone was so surprised. We almost didn’t believe what we saw,” she continued. “I was super happy and thankful that I got my phone back.”

According to The Dodo, the beluga’s act of kindness proved pointless: the water damage had ruined her phone by the time she got it back. However, Mansika still expressed her gratitude towards the beluga. “I love animals! The whale is so kind.”

Norwegian officials are currently trying to figure out ways to save the beluga. Jorgen Ree Wiig, an official at the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries, told The Washington Post that one possible option is to move the beluga to a sanctuary in Iceland since it might not survive in the wild.

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