Belugas are a species of Least Concern, but certain populations are considered Critically Endangered. Threats include hunting by humans and climate change.
Belugas tend to do relatively well in captivity, and are the only true whales (not dolphins or porpoises) that are regularly kept in aquariums.
It is believed that some belugas are kept and trained by governments for military or espionage applications. One such whale, nicknamed Hvaldimir, has been seen numerous times off the coast of Norway and is speculated to be an escaped or released trained Russian spy whale.
Hvaldimir was first seen wearing a camera harness, and often interacts with boaters, following boats and allowing humans to play fetch with him or scratch him affectionately. Such interactions are discouraged by experts, however, who fear that Hvaldimir may be dependent on humans for food and will have difficulty learning to hunt for himself.