WATCH | Bok gees has even reached a beluga whale in the Arctic Circle

07 November 2019 - 17:22 By Maggie Connolly
The rugby ball-fetching beluga whale in a screen-grab from the video that emerged on November 7 2019.
The rugby ball-fetching beluga whale in a screen-grab from the video that emerged on November 7 2019.
Image: Facebook/Alon Kowen

Springbok rugby fever is making waves in the Arctic Circle.

A video emerged on Thursday showing a beluga whale fetching an official 2019 Rugby World Cup ball.

The delightful clip, which South Africans are claiming as a celebration of the Springbok win last weekend, shows the whale retrieving the ball after it is thrown into the water from the deck of a boat.

Beluga Whale celebrating the Springboks victory somewhere close to the South Pole ! Spot the Cape Town build Gemini Craft and the South African accents ! 🇿🇦 🇿🇦 🇿🇦

Posted by Alon Kowen on Wednesday, 6 November 2019

The video, with a string of SA connections, has been shared thousands of times on social media.

The voices in the clip are clearly South African and the man behind the camera is named James. The man throwing the ball for the beluga is wearing a tracksuit with the logo of the Danah Explorer, a marine research vessel which is currently in Norwegian waters.

TimesLIVE tracked down the vessel to the harbour at Tromsø, Norway — but not the people who created the video.

A crewman on board what is believed to be a launch from the Danah Explorer takes the rugby ball from the beluga whale's mouth.
A crewman on board what is believed to be a launch from the Danah Explorer takes the rugby ball from the beluga whale's mouth.
Image: Facebook/Alon Kowen

A number of South African divers and researchers work with the Danah Divers, a research body linked to the Save Our Seas Foundation. The SoS-linked Danah Explorer and Danah Divers share a logo.

The boat from which the ball is thrown is a small landing craft with the logo of Cape Town boatbuilding company Gemini Marine visible. Gemini marketing manager Gerhard Neethling has said he would investigate the boat’s possible links to his company.

TimesLIVE spoke to the Danah Explorer’s agent in Tromsø, Jonas Wiik, who said the yacht’s owners had declined to speak to the media.

It has therefore been impossible to establish when or where the footage was made, but marine-tracking website Marine Traffic recorded the Danah Explorer near the town of Hammerfest on Wednesday.

The Danah Explorer in Tromsø harbour, Norway, on November 7 2019.
The Danah Explorer in Tromsø harbour, Norway, on November 7 2019.
Image: Tromsø Harbour webcam

This is the Norwegian port which drew global interest earlier this year when an apparently highly trained beluga whale was found nearby with a harness that seemed to be set up for attaching recording equipment.

The creature was thought to have been trained by the Russian military because the harness clips read “Equipment St Petersburg”, but its history has not been confirmed.

The harness was removed and the beluga has been seen repeatedly in the area since, approaching and following boats, sometimes taking food from people on them and reportedly dancing in circles.

TimesLIVE has sent enquiries to the Save Our Seas Foundation.

- Maggie Connolly is a student visiting SA on an SIT study abroad programme


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