Suspected Russian spy, a beluga whale found with mysterious camera strap, lets people pet it

Kirk A. Bado

A mysterious beluga whale with suspected ties to the Russian military has become an  attraction in Norway after making friends with locals.

While the rest of the world is speculating about the implications of militarized mammals, the 3,000-pound supposed red agent is remaining close to shore. 

Since it was discovered Friday, the white whale has been seen frolicking in the frigid harbor of Tufjord, a hamlet near Norway’s northernmost point, and has become a celebrity in the Baltic region. It is so comfortable with people that it swims to the dock and allows residents to pet its nose.

Resident Linn Saether told Norwegian broadcaster NRK on Tuesday that the whale “is so tame that when you call it, it comes to you.”

A fisherman found the whale swimming in the frigid waters near Norway with a suspicious harness on it. The harness had a mount for a camera. It wasn’t clear why the strap was attached to the mammal or whether it was part of any Russian military activity in the region.

More: Spy games? Russia could be using beluga whales for military purposes

"There is a lot of secrecy around these military projects, but a Russian researcher I have spoken to says she knows that the Russian defense has such whales in captivity for military training," Norweigian whale scientist Audun Rikardsen told the Aftenposten newspaper.

"It is most likely that the Russian Navy in Murmansk is involved."

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Suspected Russian spy, a beluga whale found with mysterious camera strap, lets people pet it