Enigmatic Beluga whale off Norway staying near humans

A Norwegian official says a beluga whale, freed from a tight harness that suggests links to a military facility in neighboring Russia, is staying near humans in Arctic Norway

COPENHAGEN, Denmark -- A beluga whale found in Arctic Norway wearing a harness that suggests links to Russia appears to be enjoying staying near humans.

Joergen Ree Wiig, of the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries, told The Associated Press "it was the first thing I saw" when looking out of his office window Thursday in Hammerfest, a harbor near Norway's northernmost point. He said: "I thought I was dreaming."

The tame whale was first spotted last week wearing a tight harness with a camera mount and "equipment St. Petersburg" written on the strap. It's still unclear why the strap was attached to the mammal or whether it was part of any Russian military activity in the region.

Residents have been able to pet the mammal on its nose in recent days.