The whale that plays fetch is in danger, but there's a team working hard to protect him
Earlier this month, a beluga whale caught the world's attention by playing fetch with a rugby ball thrown by South African researchers off the waters of Norway.
The adorable video has been watched over 20 million times, promoting people across the globe to wonder how the whale became so comfortable around humans.
It's believed that the whale, known as Hvaldimir, was at some point, trained by the Russian military and was either released or escaped.
Previously, it had been seen wearing a GoPro harness that read "Equipment St. Petersburg" which has since been removed.
The whale also has a team working to protect him.
The Advocates for Hvaldimir, with members from Norway and the United States, have been working to relocate him to another region of the ocean where he can, hopefully, become part of a pod.
Belugas generally live in pods of two to up to a hundred whales. Pods help protect the whales from predators and improve their hunting effectiveness. They also provide a sense of belonging for the highly sociable mammals.
"As advocates for Hvaldi, we realized this whale would never have the chance at survival, let alone a normal life, unless he is given the chance to be with a pod," Regina Crosby, co-founder of Advocates for Hvaldimir, who's been working on a documentary about the whale, said according to Good News Network.
View this post on InstagramA post shared by hvaldimir fan page 💙💦 (@hvaldimirofficial) on Oct 8, 2019 at 6:34am PDT
"There are folks that claim no pod will accept him, but those same folks would claim a captive beluga can never learn to eat on their own. As Hvaldi has proven—that is not true!" she added.
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"There are many many cases of orphaned or displaced dolphins and whales who join pods—even pods other species—to become a family. He deserves a chance," she continued.
The advocates want to relocate Hvaldi as soon as possible out of concern for his safety.
There is heavy fishing in the fjords where he currently resides and cod season is just beginning. Belugas can easily get caught and drown in the fishing nets because they must surface every twenty minutes for air.
"The 'good news' for now is that we have created a GoFundMe page with specific details about his situation," Crosby told Good News Network.
"It is really important to note that we are NOT working with ANY organizations who are involved in keeping whales or dolphins in captivity, or using them for entertainment; and we are not receiving funding from those companies," the group continued.
As of publication, the GoFundMe campaign has already raised just under half of its $10,000 goal.