Russian Spy Whale Goes Rogue In Search of Most Dangerous Game

Agent 00-Blubber has struck again — though this time, it looks like he’s gone AWOL (quite possibly in search of a paramour).

Scattershot reports of a beluga whale acting as a Russian spy have sprayed the internet ever since the cetacean’s first publicized appearance in 2019. On Sunday, scientists detected a flurry of activity from him for the first time in recent memory, sparking renewed international attention.

The meat of the story: Norwegian marine biologists discovered the whale in waters off their coast in April of that year, wearing some kind of harness. The gear was inscribed with the phrase “Equipment of St. Petersburg.” According to many reports, it also featured attachment points for camera equipment.

The scientists removed the kit from the whale, named him “Hvaldimir” (a play on words revolving around the Norwegian word for whale, “hval”), and released him.

Spy game

Did any of this mean the animal was acting as an agent of the Russian state? Probably not. But obviously, that’s exactly what a spy would want you to think.

Russia never officially commented. However, you wouldn’t be alone if you pointed a finger at The Motherland for training these intelligent cetaceans in covert tactics. At least not on the internet.

Regardless of his past operations, Hvaldimir cooled it for years after his gear was confiscated. (Officials have been tracking him — whether via some kind of implant, likely unknown to the agent, or other means.)

Now 13 or 14 years old, according to general consensus, Hvaldimir spent his stay of R&R mostly in the same location where he was found: Finnmark, Norway, and its surrounding waters on the country’s northern coast.

Suddenly, on Sunday, scientists found he was making a fast break for Sweden.

Could this be a signal of secret Russian plans to renew hostilities in the Russo-Sweden War of 1788? Despite Vladimir Putin’s well-documented obsession with his countryman Grigory Potemkin, the ruthless 18th-century warmonger, researchers think Hvaldimir could be acting on his own accord.

Why? Well, because he’s overdue for an aquatic romantic liaison.

Fast mover

“We don’t know why he has sped up so fast right now,” Sebastian Strand, a marine biologist with the OneWhale organization, told The Guardian. Strand added Hvaldimir’s behavior seems strange because he’s moving “very quickly away from his natural environment.”

“It could be hormones driving him to find a mate,” Strand said. “Or it could be loneliness, as belugas are a very social species — it could be that he’s searching for other beluga whales.”

Everyone in the spy game knows fraternizing with free radicals is a dangerous game. The only one more dangerous? Unequivocally, the gambit a spy both dreads and longs for: a rendezvous with the opposite sex.

Biologically, Hvaldimir’s rogue mission could be just as deadly, Livescience reported. Intermittent sightings indicate he may have lost weight since 2019. Some experts fret that he will struggle to sustain himself in waters that far south. Belugas are an arctic species.

Our international espionage consortium here at ExplorersWeb, though, largely shrugged aside the danger Hvaldimir is facing. When an agent’s got a View to a Krill, all concomitant risks are assumed.

At the risk of falling under accusation of treason by the United States government, good hunting, Hvaldimir — if that is your real name.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson spent his 20s as an adventure rock climber, scampering throughout the western U.S., Mexico, and Thailand to scope out prime stone and great stories. Life on the road gradually transformed into a seat behind the keyboard, where he acted as a founding writer of the AllGear Digital Newsroom and earned 1,500+ bylines in four years on topics from pro rock climbing to slingshots and scientific breakthroughs.