Alleged Russian Spy Whale Trolls Scandinavia, Making Friends, Gobbling Up Fish

Jun 2, 2023

If Hvaldimir the white whale is really a Russian spy, then perhaps he has given up that job. 

This friendly beluga whale has been seen around Norway and Sweden lately. He's been making friends, eating fish, and making news all around the world. 

His name is a blend of "Hval," which means "whale" in Norwegian, and a suffix of a disliked Russian leader. 

Unlike that leader, Hvaldimir is very friendly. He picks up plastic rings and has even found a lost cellphone. He returned a kayaker's GoPro camera once. 

Carl Bildt, a former Prime Minister of Sweden, joked that Hvaldimir should be given asylum because he might be running away from Russia's conflict with Ukraine. 

Fishermen in Norway first saw Hvaldimir in 2019. He had a camera harness that said “Equipment St. Petersburg.” The harness is not there anymore.

Hvaldimir used to stay near northern Norway but has started to swim to Sweden. Scientists think he’s looking for more food. That, or the 13- or 14-year-old beluga is searching for a girlfriend. They are worried about him getting hurt by boats. Hvaldimir has already been hurt by propellers and fishing hooks. 

OneWhale is a group made to keep Hvaldimir safe. They want to stop people from getting too close to the beluga. The group wants to create an ocean preserve where Hvaldimir can be taken care of and later sent back into the wild. OneWhale's president said they hope to transform him into, “a global ambassador for compassion and love between humans and animals."   

Photo by Charlotte Collins courtesy of Unsplash. 

Reflect: How can humans protect and provide a safe habitat for marine life?

The word “suffix” in the third paragraph can be defined as _______. (Common Core RI.5.4; RI.6.4)
a. a linguistic element that is added at the end of a word to modify its meaning
b. experience or be subjected to something bad happening
c. a word, letter, or number placed before another
d. a string of letters that go at the start of a word
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