Norway town votes to support marine reserve for displaced whales

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Town leaders in Hammerfest, Norway, voted in favor of a pioneering marine reserve project endorsed by OneWhale that could provide urgently needed protection for "Russian spy whale" Hvaldimir

NEW YORK, March 24, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — OneWhale, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting the world-famous "Russian spy whale" Hvaldimir, celebrates city leaders in Hammerfest, Norway, who recently voted in support of an urgently needed planned marine reserve.

The plan would transform a nearby pristine fjord into the Norwegian Whale Reserve, a pioneering international initiative to protect whales like Hvaldimir who have been released from captivity but lack the skills and experience to survive in the wild.

More than 2,000 whales and dolphins are estimated to live in captivity around the world, primarily in marine theme parks. Most are confined to cramped concrete-and-glass tanks for most of their lives and isolated from other members of their species.

"This is a landmark vote and a major step toward our goal to protect Hvaldimir," said OneWhale founder Regina Crosby Haug. "This decision moves us closer to the creation of one of the world’s first protected natural reserves for whales, which will allow us to offer sanctuary for Hvaldimir and other whales like him. When it’s complete, the Norwegian Whale Reserve will serve as a model for protecting whales, who are highly intelligent animals with complex social systems. They have much to teach us."

Hvaldimir, a young male beluga whale, appeared off the Norwegian coast near Hammerfest in 2019. He wore a harness that suggested he may have been trained to gather information by Russian intelligence. Because of his training and experience with humans, Hvaldimir lacks the skills necessary to survive in the wild, where he is vulnerable to unintentionally harmful human interaction as well as potentially dangerous encounters with boats and marine machinery.

In cooperation with NOAH, Norway’s largest NGO for animals, OneWhale’s world-class marine scientists and researchers, animal rights advocates, wildlife conservationists, and a year-round team of dedicated volunteers monitor Hvaldimir’s location and behavior. In addition, OneWhale’s Team Hvaldimir educates the general public about the risks he faces and advocates for the creation of the Norwegian Whale Reserve.

The Norwegian Whale Reserve will offer a safe and protected natural environment for displaced whales like Hvaldimir to live their lives in the most natural way possible.

For more information about Hvaldimir and how you can financially support his protection, visit

About OneWhale

OneWhale is a nonprofit created expressly for protecting the health and welfare of Hvaldimir, Norway’s famous resident beluga whale. OneWhale has enlisted a world-renowned team of experts, including whale researchers, scientists, and marine mammal veterinarians, all dedicated to helping Hvaldimir lead a long, healthy, and safe life in Norway. OneWhale works every day to ensure Hvaldimir’s safety and survival. Our mission is to offer Hvaldimir refuge, rehabilitation and release to a wild beluga population. We believe he deserves to be truly free with his own kind. To find out more and support our mission, visit

Heather Ripley
Orange Orchard
[email protected]
(865) 977-1973


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