WATCH: Beluga whale returns cellphone from ocean

Posted by Christi Nortier on 9 May 2019

A beluga whale, once suspected of being a defected Russian navy trainee, returned a local’s cellphone after she accidentally dropped it in the ocean off the edge of a dock in the town of Hammerfest on Norway’s Ingoya island.

Ina Mansika and her friends had headed to the town’s waterfront to catch a glimpse of the whale.

The beluga whale had been hanging around the Arctic island’s coast for just over a week before this interaction.

It was first noticed in the area when it started repeatedly approaching and lingered around fishing boats, which is not common behaviour for this shy species. A local fisherman noticed that the whale wore a tight harness, which was later removed.

It was confirmed by the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries that the harness read ‘Equipment St. Petersburg’, according to the Washington Post. Apparently, harness could have carried weapons or cameras. This raised questions about the possibility of the whale being a spy.

The whale’s tameness and apparent training was evidentt when Mansika and friends visited.

“We laid down on the dock to look at it and hopefully get the chance to pat it,” 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!”

Other locals have remarked at how friendly and well-trained the whale is – it comes when called, allows locals to pet it and retrieves plastic rings thrown out into the water. It returns to the dock with its mouth open, as if expecting food.

However, Norwegian officials are concerned about the whale’s well-being. They fear the whale may be unable to feed itself because it has clearly been trained by humans and accustomed to being fed.

In addition, they have a need for companionship – this may be why they are attracted to the sounds of boats.

Norway is considering transporting the whale to Iceland, where it can live in the world’s first open-sea beluga whale sanctuary. The sanctuary will be in an enclosed bay.

Feature Image: Sea Life Trust/ Facebook.

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