Although it’s not at all unheard of for a national navy to train aquatic mammals for certain undersea tasks, Norway’s Institute of Marine Research now contends that a beluga whale that has been harassing fishing boats in the Arctic Circle is actually a Russian Navy asset that’s been deployed to the region. As crazy as that may sound, there is at least some evidence to support this unusual accusation.

After receiving multiple reports of the whale headbutting fishing boats and chewing on fishing nets near the island of Ingøya, Norway’s Marine Research Institute decided to intervene for the sake of both the fishermen and the whale itself. They were in for quite a surprise.

Initially, their plan was to deploy a net over the whale as it swam between their boats, but as the beluga approached, they were met with two surprises: First, the whale seemed to be tame, swimming right up to researchers as though it was looking for food. Second, the whale was wearing a harness that researchers say civilian scientists would not likely use. On the side of the harness, written clearly in English, were the words “Equipment St. Petersburg.”

“This is a tame animal that is used to getting food served, so that is why it has made contacts with the fishermen,” explained Audun Rikardsen, a professor at the Department of Arctic and Marine Biology at the Arctic University of Norway in Tromsoe. “The question is now whether it can survive by finding food by itself. We have seen cases where other whales that have been in Russian captivity are doing fine.”