Lost Russian Beluga "Spy Whale" Needs Help

Hvaldimir needs our help. He is not safe in his current situation.
He needs protection and advocacy.

That’s where you come in.

Hvaldimir is a young male beluga whale who was presumably trained by a Russian research facility before arriving in a Norwegian fjord in April 2019, wearing a harness with a camera mount.

He is a playful, intelligent, sweet and gentle whale. When discovered by local fishermen, he was tugging on a buoy until they helped by removing his tight harness. Now that he has earned his freedom, he has remained a resident of Norway’s fjords. He was nicknamed the ‘Russian Spy Whale’ and has generated enormous public interest in his fate since his arrival.

Hvaldimir's current living conditions are not sustainable. While Hvaldimir is technically a "free" whale, he is not a wild whale. Because of his prior conditioning, he has chosen to stay near salmon farms and busy seaports, seeking human companionship.

Although he forages and hunts for food on his own, is healthy, and has survived the daily gauntlet of nets and propellers, Hvaldi is not safe. He is habituated to humans and does not have access to a beluga pod or other whales for company. Seeking interaction from humans, he spends his days in busy harbors or near commercial fishing operations, putting him in constant danger. This situation poses not only a risk to Hvaldimir, but also to those who try to interact with him.

1.) Unregulated Tourism & Boat Propellers: We have documented up to 300 tourists a day flocking to get close to Hvaldimir. People boat, jet ski, dive, snorkel and swim with him; stick things in his mouth; and pose for selfies. Boat propellers have hit Hvaldimir. Last summer, he was critically injured when sliced open by something sharp. Yet he continues to come within inches of active propellers. Hvaldimir does not understand the danger of boats or humans and does not avoid them as a wild whale would.

2.) Commercial fishing activity: Heavy fishing activity in these fjords utilizes large commercial nets. They are set and left unattended, sometimes for days. As a result, Hvaldimir could get caught, and because he can only hold his breath for about 20 minutes, he will drown.

3.) Norway’s Salmon farms: Hvaldimir has spent most of his time at busy, high-tech salmon farms, each holding millions of salmon. He forages for food, seeks interaction with the workers, and is generally unwelcomed. He can get in the way of boats and machinery and prevent work from being done. The farms have reported Hvaldimir to be a problem. Hvaldimir could be threatened or harmed by being near these active operations.

OneWhale.org is a nonprofit created expressly for protecting the health and welfare of Hvaldimir, Norway’s famous resident beluga whale.

As advocates for Hvaldimir, OneWhale has enlisted a world-renowned team of experts, including whale researchers, scientists, and marine mammal veterinarians, to make up our advisory board. In addition, volunteers from all around the globe continue to show up to participate on Team Hvaldimir, which is dedicated to his daily protection and helping Hvaldimir lead a long, healthy and safe life.

OneWhale has been working in Norway to find a long-term solution for Hvaldimir’s situation. Hence, the creation of the Whale Reserve located in Hammerfest, Norway, a massive free-range space (approx. 1.6 miles/ 2 km long x 1 mile/1.6 km wide), that will serve as a protected habitat for Hvaldimir and hopefully other marine animals in need, including other retired captive belugas.

Our ultimate goal is that Hvaldimir, with time and space, can rehabilitate and unlearn his human-conditioned behaviors and possibly be introduced to belugas in the wild.

But the first step is to keep him out of harm’s way. That is the focus of this fundraiser:

Unless action is taken to protect him, experts believe his life is in serious jeopardy. Unfortunately, the outcomes for other solitary cetaceans, including beluga whales who seek out human interaction or frequent heavily populated seaports and marinas, often end in tragedy. There are many examples of this, including the tragic and recent story of Freya, the Walrus, who was euthanized because of public interaction with her.

Daily protection and advocacy from Team Hvaldimir, both in Norway and abroad, including educating tourists, fish farms, and local communities, comes at a cost. We need your help to cover ongoing expenses in the field and on location with Hvaldimir.

Your generous donation will help cover necessary on-site expenses wherever Hvaldimir is located, including boat rentals, fuel, food, safety equipment, camping fees and lodging for our biologists, veterinarians and volunteers.

Please consider covering:
$20 = Toward safety & foul weather gear
$50 = Daily boat rental - this fluctuates, can be higher
$140 = Meals for volunteers for 1 week
$250 = Volunteer housing for 1 month, at campground
$500 = Team Hvaldimir on-site expenses, partial

We cannot let something awful happen to this vulnerable animal before he finds his fjord. Hvaldimir needs your contributions and your voice.

Please share this page, join our newsletter, or follow us on social media and be sure to donate here today.

Thank you from Hvaldimir and the OneWhale Team.

  • Anonymous 
    • $25 
    • 1 d
  • Anonymous 
    • $100 (Offline)
    • 11 d
  • Lydia Wright-Jackson 
    • $25 (Offline)
    • 12 d
  • Lydia Xentaras 
    • $111 (Offline)
    • 25 d
  • Amy Ford 
    • $25 (Offline)
    • 28 d
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