If You Give the Military a Dolphin…

…they’ll want a sea lion to go with it?


MCT Campus

A US Navy handler brings a trained dolphin aboard in a 2007 demonstration. Courtesy USN/MCT Campus Service.

You may have heard about the dachshunds used in WWII to locate bombs in the battlefield, but how about using dolphins to detect anti-ship mines in the ocean?

In all seriousness, the U.S. Navy marine mammal program has trained both dolphins and sea lions to detect divers, underwater mines, and sonar signals in military situations. This “technology” could be used to save lives by surrounding ships and other water-encompassed military material with marine mammals that can detect dangers and locate people while on a mission.

Before you start freaking out about how your tax dollars are spent, one should note that this program has been going for over seven years, and that these animals have been proven to possess more accurate and proficient abilities than any military technology that has been built specifically to perform these types of jobs. According to National Geographic, echolocation is used by dolphins to identify objects (sometimes buried deep into the ocean floor), and Sea Lions can use their excellent eyesight to spot lost equipment and retrieve it. These animals have the extraordinary ability to prevent trespassers from entering into restricted harbors and other private areas; they have demonstrated their abilities numerous times in demonstrations.

The only other known country to train armies of dolphins for military use is Russia, and with reports that the American dolphins will be taken to the Red Sea for NATO training exercises this summer, these two underwater forces may meet! So what will happen if the courses of the Russian dolphins and the American dolphins collide? Obviously, the American dolphins and the Russian dolphins will team up (because dolphin is a universal language, duh) and plot to destroy all of humanity, thus giving dolphin-kind an early retirement…or at least form a labor union and demand more fish for their efforts.