Sebastian Strand, a marine biologist with the OneWhale organization, has said that the Russian “spy” whale, nicknamed Hvaldimir, has surfaced in Sweden at Hunnebostrand.
First discovered in Norway’s far northern region of Finnmark, the whale spent more than three years slowly moving down the top half of the Norwegian coastline, before suddenly speeding up in recent months to cover the second half and on to Sweden.
On Sunday, he was observed in Hunnebostrand, off Sweden’s southwestern coast.
“We don’t know why he has sped up so fast right now,” especially since he is moving “very quickly away from his natural environment”, Sebastian Strand, a marine biologist with the OneWhale organisation, told AFP.
“It could be hormones driving him to find a mate. Or it could be loneliness as Belugas are a very social species — it could be that he’s searching for other Beluga whales.”
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Believed to be 13-14 years old, Strand said the whale is “at an age where his hormones are very high”.
The closest population of Belugas is however located in the Svalbard archipelago, in Norway’s far north.
The whale is not believed to have seen a single Beluga since arriving in Norway in April 2019.
Norwegians nicknamed it “Hvaldimir” — a pun on the word “whale” in Norwegian, hval, and a nod to its alleged association to Russia.
When he first appeared in Norway’s Arctic, marine biologists from the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries removed an attached man-made harness.
Norway’s fisheries director, Frank Bakke-Jensen, issued a warning on Wednesday against approaching a ‘spy’ whale named Hvaldimir.