Suspected Russian Spy Beluga Is Back Again In New Waters

His name is Hvaldimir, a pun on the Norwegian word hval (whale) and Vladimir Putin.


Tom Hale


Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

Tom is a writer in London with a Master's degree in Journalism whose editorial work covers anything from health and the environment to technology and archaeology.

Senior Journalist

A white Beluga whale swimming in dark blue waters.

Beluga whales are extremely social and smart marine mammals that typically dwell in very cold waters.

Image credit: JohnL/

The suspected “Russian spy” whale is back on a not-so-secret mission to charm Sweden. First spotted in Norway in 2019, the beluga has now been sighted off the coast of Sweden, according to OneWhale, a Norwegian conservation organization. 

While the whale is in a vulnerable position here, authorities have taken steps to ensure he is cared for and staying well clear of boat traffic.


“We are impressed by Sweden’s show of care for Hvaldimir. They immediately contacted us upon his arrival, and even closed a bridge to protect him,” Regina Haug, founder of OneWhale, said in a statement.

OneWhale President Rich German added: “Hvaldimir’s situation remains an extremely vulnerable one as Sweden is a highly populated country, but we are very grateful Swedish authorities have quickly taken action to care for the whale.” 

A new image of Hvaldimir the beluga whale spy photographed alongside Swedish authorities.

A new image of Hvaldimir photographed alongside Swedish authorities.
Image credit: OneWhale.

The whale was first spotted by fishermen near Hammerfest in northern Norway around April 2019. It became apparent that he was fitted with a strap and a camera that was reportedly labeled "Equipment of St. Petersburg," leading to speculation that he was trained by the Russian Navy for espionage or was an escaped Russian military asset. 

Locals named him Hvaldimir, a pun on the Norwegian word hval (whale) and Vladimir Putin.


It was noted that the beluga is keen to approach boats and interacts with humans, indicating it has lived in captivity and been trained. It’s also been suggested that the Russian military has been training belugas to guard naval bases and aid deepwater divers, although they are apparently not quite as “professional” as their seal colleagues.

After charming the residents of Hammerfest, he decided to set up shop there. Now Hvaldimir has arrived in Swedish waters, they hope to edge him back to Hammerfest where there are plans to establish a 500-acre (200-hectare) marine reserve. In the meantime, people are being warned to avoid the beluga and turn off their boat’s engine if they see him in the water. 

Like most whales, belugas are incredibly intelligent and sociable creatures. Sadly, Hvaldimir has been living alone since at least 2019 and relies on humans for social interaction. Once he has been rehabilitated in the marine reserve, the hope is that he can be released back into a wild beluga population.

For now, however, Hvaldimir is just enjoying a short summer break.


  • tag
  • animals,

  • whale,

  • Russia,

  • military,

  • beluga whale,

  • espionage,

  • spy,

  • beluga