The Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries has issued a warning on Wednesday urging people to “avoid contact” with the famous beluga whale Hvaldimir to prevent causing unintentional harm to the animal.
Hvaldimir came to international attention in 2019 after he was discovered with a specially-designed harness fitted with camera mounts. This led experts to believe that the whale might have been trained by the Russian military.
The beluga whale is known for his friendly behavior, frequently approaching boats and interacting with people on board. Since 2019, Hvaldimir has been traveling along the Norwegian coast, occasionally stopping to catch fish.
Currently, he is living in the inner Oslofjord, a densely populated area, which caused authorities to believe that the risk of the whale getting injured has significantly increased. Fisheries Director Frank Bakke-Jensen said previous incidents resulted in only minor injuries to the beluga whale, primarily from contact with boats. He urged people to maintain their distance.
He especially warned boat users, emphasizing the potential risk of the whale being seriously injured or killed by boat traffic.
When asked if the whale should be placed in captivity due to the potential dangers, Bakke-Jensen insisted that Hvaldimir is a free-living animal and there are no plans to confine him. However, he said different measures might be considered given his vulnerable location and potentially limited food access.
In August, the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries killed walrus Freya after giving a similar warning to the public to stay away from the animal for her safety.