(CNN) — People should "avoid contact" with a famous beluga whale to avoid accidentally injuring or killing it, Norway's Fisheries Directorate has said.
The whale, nicknamed Hvaldimir, rose to international fame in 2019 after being spotted wearing a special harness with camera mounts, leading experts to believe it may have been trained by the Russian military.
Hvaldimir has toured the Norwegian coast. (Credit: Jorgen Ree Wiig/Norwegian Fisheries Directorate)
Since 2019, he "has been traveling along the Norwegian coast" with a few stops along the way, according to the management, which added that Hvaldimir "tends to stay in hatcheries where he has been able to catch fish, feeding excessively on food."
Hvaldimir has been known to follow ships and play with those on board.
The whale, a protected species in Norway, now lives inside the Oslofjord, according to the Directorate of Fisheries.
This "means that it has reached a very densely populated area, and the risk that the whale could be injured due to human contact is significantly higher," he added.
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In a statement Wednesday, Director of Fisheries Frank Bakke-Jensen said "so far there have only been minor incidents in which the whale has suffered minor injuries, mainly from contact with vessels."
But he urged people to keep their distance, "even though the whale is tame and used to being around people."
"We especially encourage people who go by boat to keep a good distance to prevent the whale from being injured or, in the worst case, killed by boat traffic," Bakke-Jensen said.
Given the dangers, Bakke-Jensen was asked if the whale should be put into captivity.
"We have always communicated that the whale in question is a free-living animal and we see no reason to capture it and put it behind barriers," he said.
However, now that the whale is "in a more vulnerable area and access to food may be limited, we will consider different measures," Bakke-Jensen added. "But it's still too early to say anything concrete about it."
The Directorate of Fisheries will monitor the whale's movements in the hope that it will turn around when it reaches the end of the Oslofjord.
In 2019, experts told CNN that Hvaldimir was a trained animal, and tests suggested he came from Russia.
Jorgen Ree Wiig, a marine biologist with Norway's Directorate of Fisheries, told CNN that the harness looked "specially made" and had "GoPro camera mounts on either side of it."
And the harness clips read "Equipment St. Petersburg," contributing to the theory that the whale came from Murmansk, Russia, and had been trained by the Russian navy.
The navy "has been known for training belugas to conduct military operations before," Wiig said, "such as guarding naval bases, assisting divers, finding lost equipment."