The internet has a serious soft spot for cute videos of animals.
But whag about a beluga whale playing fetch?
In the video, we see a beluga whale appear at the side of a boat, and a man at the head of the boat, reaching down into the water next to the beluga. He came back up with a rugby ball, which he threw for the whale to retrieve.
They clearly had been playing fetch for a while and then decided to make a viral video out of the occasion.
You can watch the video here:
No big deal; just a guy playing fetch with a beluga whale... 😮 https://t.co/PdSNgVABIu— Steve Stewart-Williams (@Steve Stewart-Williams)1573170701.0
When the video first appeared, viewers believed the beluga was in Antarctic waters. Scientists who viewed the video since then confirmed it makes more sense that the video was filmed in Norwegian waters.
Biologist Jackie Hilderling pointed out that beluga whales only naturally live in the Arctic seas, so it would be essentially impossible for the whale to make an appearance in Antarctica.
And this is not the only thing viewing biologists figured out. Upon seeing the video, they were suspicious the whale was the famous Hvaldimir.
Hvaldimir became popular earlier this year when he was first spotted in Hammerfest, Norway. He was a subject of popular speculation, because he was wearing a harness of camera gear that said, "Equipment St. Petersburg" on the side.
Viewers immediately began to speculate the origin of the spy equipment, as well as what the whale was doing wearing it. One theory made him an escapee from a Russian Navy training facility. Another said he was collecting information about neighboring countries.
The beluga was called the "Russian spy whale" and "Hvaldimir," which is a combination of "hval" (meaning whale) and "Vladimir" (referencing Russia's current President).
Though it's been confirmed the whale wearing the camera gear and the whale playing fetch in the viral video are, in fact, the same whale, there's no hard evidence confirming Hvaldimir is, in fact, a Russian spy whale.
But he does play a mean game of fetch as shown by video from September when he borrowed a kayaker's Gopro camera and returned it...
A Beluga whale perhaps wants to play FETCH after returning kayaker's Go-Pro camera. Frustrating Humans require mor… https://t.co/sxpKw0oMBD— Truth Exists and Is Freely Known (@Truth Exists and Is Freely Known)1569406043.0
...and retrieved a dropped iPhone in May.
Beluga whale saves an iPhone in Norway (aka good boy does a fetch), via Reddit. https://t.co/ehnHUKJwfB— Y Lee (@Y Lee)1557101999.0
Twitter, of course, is having a fun time watching the cute whale play fetch.
And entertaining the idea of the whale being a Russian spy.
@HuffPostWeird https://t.co/zNtCXtLGOM— Anton Hur (@Anton Hur)1573614710.0
@SteveStuWill Playfulness is one of the strange side effects of intelligence. Would be logical that running around… https://t.co/5mS2wwMCps— Matias Kiviniemi (@Matias Kiviniemi)1573190110.0
@AdamRamsay @SteveStuWill So the whale is a Russian spy? Actually, this explains why he’s so conditioned to respo… https://t.co/WCsYL7bciZ— 𝓢ara δelahan (@𝓢ara δelahan)1573223946.0
The Norwegian Orca Survey, who adopted the beluga into their spectrum of watched whales, wants to remind everyone of the importance of keeping our distance from these wild animals.
When Hvaldimir was first spotted with the camera gear, he was extremely malnourished and underweight. It was at that time that the Norwegian Orca Survey "adopted" him and began tracking his feeding and hunting habits, in the hopes of establishing a healthy diet and hunting practice for the animal.
Enjoying our world's animals from afar is, of course, acceptable, though.
In case you needed an awful ear-worm to accompany your whale-watching today:
Whether or not Hvaldimir is associated with Russia in any way remains unclear. What we do know is that he's terribly cute and a Very Good Doggo—oops, whale—for his great fetching abilities.
His eating and hunting habits have significantly improved since first spotted earlier this year. It's fairly likely we'll continue to see our favorite Russian Spy Whale in Norwegian waters.