When Ina Mansika dropped her phone in the ocean off the coast of Hammerfest, Norway, last month, she never expected that a friendly mammal of the sea would retrieve it for her. Mansika and her friends were there hoping to catch a glimpse of a beluga whale who may have been trained by the Russian navy.
The whale had recently been spotted in the area. To their delight, the friendly fellow appeared and also saved the day when Mansika dropped her phone into the water.
“We laid down on the dock to look at [the beluga] 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!”
How amazing! The helpful gesture was caught on video, and it’s so adorable.
“When animals are kinder than humans,” reads the caption. Despite the fact that her phone had sustained enough water damage to render it unusable, Mansika was still incredibly grateful for the whale’s good deed.
“I love animals!” she told the outlet. “The whale is so kind.”
Check it out in this video posted to Instagram by @isa.opdahl:
As for this helpful beluga’s future, that remains to be seen. Some of it depends on whether he is able to live on his own in the sea, or whether he became too accustomed to humans in his previous life.
“Maybe [he] was trained to recover things people lose in the sea, as he is always looking for a boat to come close to,” marine biologist Jorgen Ree Wiig, an inspector for the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries, told ABC News.
“We are in discussions with the Norwegian government about options for beluga,” Wiig continued. “He could just stay here, he could wait for other belugas when they make their summer migration through Norwegian waters and continue on with them [or] he could get transported to a whale sanctuary in Iceland.”
The beluga had been found wearing a harness that read “Equipment St. Petersburg,” which is why experts suggest he had come from Russia. The harness had an attachment for a GoPro camera, though the camera was no longer attached.
Wiig documented the discovery and rescue efforts of the beluga (also referred to as a white whale) on his Instagram account:
View this post on Instagram
With the help of a fisherman (Joar Hesten) @yngv3 and I managed to free this white whale from some kind of harness. The harness might have been attached to the whale by the Russian navy which is known to have projects where they train white whales. Hopefully the whale is doing well and have found it's way back to it's own kind. ðð³ð #beluga #belugawhale #whitewhale #whale #whiterussian #nature_perfection #fiskeridir #fiskeridirektoratet
He has since shared additional photos and videos of the beluga on his Instagram page, including the one below.
“The beluga was outside our ship “Rind” when I woke up this morning,” he wrote in the caption.
In another one of Wiig’s photos, the beluga is once again swimming close to the boat and seems to be staring straight at him.
Clearly, this whale is as fascinated with the humans on ship as they are with it!
Based on this beluga’s ability to retrieve the phone and the fact that it appears to be from Russia, some are speculating that the animal is being trained as a kind of spy for the Russian military.
Martin Biuw, a marine mammal researcher at Norway’s Institute of Marine Research, told CNN that the beluga is undoubtedly a trained animal, though the purpose of the training is anyone’s guess.
“We know that the Russian military during the Cold War were training belugas to sniff out mines or old torpedoes,” Biuw added, but it would be “pure speculation” to assume that the Russian military is currently training these animals to be “spies.”
Belugas are an optimal choice for training because they are very intelligent and easy to train.
As for this particularly helpful beluga, wherever he ends up next, we hope he continues his random acts of kindness!