"Everyone was so surprised. We almost didn't believe what we saw," she said. "I was super happy and thankful that I got my phone back."
We've all had scary moments when we thought we've lost our phone. The fear intensifies when we think we've dropped it somewhere, especially if it's into the water because there's no way we can get it back. Ina Mansika and her friends decided to head down to the waterfront to see if they could spot whales and when she leaned too close to the water, her phone slipped out of her jacket and fell into the water. She was under the assumption that she'd lost the phone forever, but she was in for a surprise.
A few weeks ago, a beluga whale fitted with a harness made an appearance in the open waters around Hammerfest, Norway. Even though there was not much information about the origin of the whale, he was suspected to have been trained by the Russian Navy to be a spy of sorts. They assume he escaped from a training facility. Since he was spotted, the whale was freed from his harness and he's continued to linger nearby in the waters.
A beluga whale was spotted in the UK's River Thames, one of the furthest south sightings ever. Researchers say climate change is shrinking their Arctic ice habitat, affecting their feeding and migration patterns. pic.twitter.com/r6OT0EHIWf— AJ+ (@ajplus) September 25, 2018
The whale, assumed to be a spy, is also quite considerate! Ina and her friends went to Hammerfest to see if they could spot the whale. "We laid down on the dock to look at it and hopefully get the chance to pat it," Mansika told The Dodo. "I had forgotten to close my jacket pocket and my phone fell in the ocean. We assumed it would be gone forever, until the whale dove back down and came back a few moments later with my phone in its mouth!" All she had to do was simply take it from his mouth! Who would have thought something like this was possible?
A beluga whale with a harness that says "Equipment St. Petersburg" rubbed against a boat in Norway, officials there said, raising alarm it could belong to the Russian Navy.— AJ+ (@ajplus) April 29, 2019
The whale was tame and "used to get food served so that is why it has made contacts with the fishermen." pic.twitter.com/fKpAkYAwpQ
Mansika had no idea how to feel, and she knew she was quite stunned with what had just happened. All she wanted to was to see the whale, and she had a chance to actually seek help from him! "Everyone was so surprised. We almost didn't believe what we saw," she said. "I was super happy and thankful that I got my phone back." Even though she got her phone back, the damage to the phone because the water was quite extensive and it was beyond repair. Mansika was appreciative regardless: "I love animals!" she said. "The whale is so kind."
When the whale was first spotted at Hammerfest, Jorgen Ree Wiig, a marine biologist at the directorate, told CNN: "The whale seemed playful but our instincts said that it was also asking for help to get out of the harness." The harness appeared to have been "specially made," Wiig said, and bore "mounts for GoPro cameras on each side of it," while the harness clips read "Equipment St. Petersburg." Wiig believes the whale may have originated from Murmansk, Russia.
Martin Biuw, a marine mammal researcher at Norway's Institute of Marine Research had to agree with Wiig as he said, "The fact that it's a trained animal is undebatable." He saw the video and said, "It's quite clear that the whale is searching out the boat, and that it's used to being around boats. The whale is coming up with its head above the water, opening its mouth, which suggests that it's expecting to be fed fish as a reward."
Such training, he said, "is not conducted by researchers or anyone in Norway or Greenland. Researchers there do not use harnesses." Biuw also added that any statement made on the whale's purpose would be "pure speculation," but added, "We know that the Russian military during the Cold War was training belugas to sniff out mines or old torpedoes." Wiig also said it was the best feeling ever when they freed the beluga whale from its harness!
They are also unsure if the whale is too accustomed to humans for him to survive on his own in the wild, seeing just how friendly he is with humans, but they have his best interests at heart. Wiig said one option they have is to transport the whale to a sanctuary in Iceland, which is about 1,250 miles from Hammerfest. This plan might increase chances of survival for the whale, according to the Washington Post.