It's a whale of a tale.
The strange and enthralling saga of Hvaldimir, a beluga whale who may be a current or former Russian intelligence asset, continues with fresh reports of the whale swimming off the coasts of Sweden, The Guardian reports.
Experts say he's may be lonely and searching for other whale friends — or, alternately, jacked full of raging sex hormones and looking for some watery hanky panky.
"We don’t know why he has sped up so fast right now," Sebastian Strand, a marine biologist at an organization called OneWhale, told the newspaper. "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."
Thar He Blows
Hvaldimir first made a global splash in 2019 when fishermen in Norway found the whale wearing a harness that had a mount for a camera and the words "Equipment of St. Petersburg" emblazoned on the strap, which was later removed. The Russian military has reportedly trained belugas, dolphins and seals for covert naval missions, so the theory isn't quite as wild as it sounds.
On this most recent sighting in Sweden, scientists are scratching their heads because Hvaldimir is far from his usual swimming grounds in Norway. Whale watchers have seen the friendly aquatic mammal speed up his travel and make his way quickly to Sweden's southwestern coast, specifically the podunk hamlet of Hunnebostrand where he was spotted on Sunday, according to the Guardian.
Strand said his group is monitoring the beluga whale, who appears to be in good health. But Strand said they are concerned that the big boi may not be getting enough fish to eat and may have lost a bit of weight.
Despite hints of his Russian military roots, Russian representatives have never claimed ownership of the toothy-grinned beluga whale, and some accounts of his origins have differed.
Since his first sighting, tales of Hvaldimir have captivated animal lovers and beyond. The mammal is very friendly, having once retrieved a woman's cell phone in the ocean. He's known to approach boats and ask for food, or to play fetch with plastic rings. He also loves scritches on his large melon of a head and around his blowhole, according to the Associated Press.
If he is indeed looking to find friends or a mate, scientists say the beluga whale needs to go farther afield.
More on this beluga whale: A Man Is Now Claiming He Recognizes the “Russian Spy Whale”
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