A beluga whale was found off Norway’s coast, which appeared to be wearing a special Russian harness that a Norwegian expert believes was trained by the Russian navy.

According to local reports, the beluga repeatedly approached the Norwegian boats in the Arctic island that is 258 miles from where Russia’s northern fleet is based.

Prof Audun Rikardsen, a marine biologist, told BBC News that the harness had a GoPro camera holder and a label that can be sourced back to St. Petersburg. He said the harness “was attached really tightly around its head, in front of its pectoral fins and it had clips.”

He added, however, that a fellow Russian scientist told him that it was not the kind of kit that Russian scientists would probably use.

“A Russian colleague said they don’t do such experiments, but she know the navy has caught belugas for some years and trained them – most likely it’s related to that,” Rikardsen told BBC News.

Col Viktor Baranets was interviewed by Russian broadcaster Govorit Moskva about that and Baranets denied the allegations.

“If we were using this animal for spying, do you really think we’d attach a mobile phone number with the message ‘please call this number?’” Baranets said. “We have military dolphins for combat roles, we don’t cover that up.”

Baranets continued to explain that in Crimea, they do have a military center for dolphins, where they are trained to solve various tasks. This started out in 2014, when the Russian navy seized the dolphin facility in Crimeria, which previously operated under Ukraine.

“Belugas, like dolphins and killer whales, are quite intelligent – they are Arctic animals and quite social, they can be trained like a dog,” added Rikardsen.

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