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Russians Are Obsessed With These Big Plush Ikea Sharks

The popularity of Blåhaj has apparently led to people selling them online at high prices.

Posted on October 29, 2018, at 9:03 a.m. ET

Russians on social media are mass-purchasing Blåhaj, a giant plush shark sold in Ikea stores, and making accounts for it.

This isn't the first time the toy has received attention.

A few years ago, people in Canada started a petition when the production of the toy was halted. Evidently, the decision was overturned, and Blåhaj has enjoyed widespread popularity since, appearing sporadically on social media around the world.

But the hype in Russia around the toy has been next-level.

On Instagram, the hashtag #акулаизикеи — "Ikea shark" — brings up thousands of photos of Blåhaj.

Russian news outlets report that the demand is depleting stock, and people are selling the sharks online for higher prices.

IKEA stores in Moscow are running out of toy sharks because people keep buying them to boost their Instagram game, writes @villagemsk 🦈🇸🇪😲 (Sharks are still available on Avito, but you'll have to pay extra)

The trend kicked off in April when a meme using one of the toys went viral in Russia.

This meme has been around for years; it's appeared in articles from as early as 2014, but seemed to make a real impact on Russian website Pikabu this year.

More recently, the trend kicked off again thanks to another meme on Pikabu.

And now they're everywhere. People are even making comedy accounts for them.

Instagram: @blahsebastian

Zoya Styakhlova, a 21-year-old from Ulyanovsk, Russia, set up an account for her shark, Sebastian, after seeing a bunch of shark memes on the Russian social media website VK.

"You see his face?" she said. "It has a huge amount of emotions. It can explain any life situation!"

And yes, the shark has fan art.

They're everywhere.

BuzzFeed News has reached out to Ikea Russia for a comment.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.