THE HUNT FOR RED BELUGA
Acid, Actresses, and Defectors: Inside the Bizarre History of Marine Mammal Spies
From acid-dropping dolphin researchers to top-secret Soviet circus trainers, the history of marine mammals serving as underwater spies is deeply weird.
Welcome to Rabbit Hole, a breaking-news analysis that helps you get smart on the one story everyone’s obsessing over—for Beast Inside members only.
If a Russian spy-whale defecting to Norway sounds weird, try harder.
It’s not even the fourth weirdest incident in the long and bizarre history of marine mammal espionage. Hell, it’s not even the first incident involving a cetacean defector. The story of how dolphins and whales became clandestine operatives for human navies involves an acid-dropping scientist fond of dosing his marine mammal charges; a pioneering stuntwoman who went from a bit role in a movie about fishman love to top secret program manager; and a cast of allegedly knife-wielding and hunger-striking patriotic dolphin captives.