Petty Officer 2nd Class Joshua Scott/US Navy

Yes, there is such a thing as militarised dolphins

Be afraid.

JEREMY BENDER, ALEX LOCKIE, BUSINESS INSIDER
6 APR 2016
 

Until the introduction of modern machinery, animals played an often-decisive role in warfare. For instance, the Mongols' masterful use of horses allowed Genghis Khan and his generals to carve out the largest land empire ever known.

In the book Beasts of War: The Militarisation of Animals, author Jared Eglan curated amazing insights into how militaries have used a stunning menagerie of animals in combat. One of the more surprising animals that humans have managed to militarise are dolphins.

 

In 1960, the US Navy first began its studies on dolphins. At first, the studies were limited to testing how dolphins were so hydrodynamic, with efforts on applying the findings toward improving torpedo performance.

However, by 1967, the US Navy Marine Mammal Program evolved into a major project. The program, which is still going, began training dolphins for mine-hunting and force-protection missions.

In the case of mine hunting, dolphins were trained to locate underwater mines and release buoys over their location, allowing the Navy to safely clear the weapons.

During the Iraq War in 2003, such dolphin-led operations led to the clearance of over 100 mines in the port of Umm Qasr.

dolPetty Officer 2nd Class Joshua Scott/US Navy

Additionally, dolphins have been trained to guard harbours against enemy divers. When a diver approached, the dolphin was trained to bump a buoy device onto the person’s back, which would drag them to the surface.

"These animals are released almost daily untethered into the open ocean, and since the program began, only a few animals have not returned," according to the Navy.

The US is not alone in its militarisation of dolphins. Russia also has its own militarised dolphin divisions, which it seized from Ukraine during the annexation of Crimea in 2014. The dolphin division was first created by the Soviet Union.

And in the beginning of March, Russia announced that it was looking to buy five more dolphins for the unit - two females and three males.

After Russia’s seizure of the dolphins in March 2014, RIA Novosti wrote that the "dolphins are trained to patrol open water and attack or attach buoys to items of military interest, such as mines on the sea floor or combat scuba divers trained to slip past enemy security perimeters, known as frogmen".

putinKremlin

This article was originally published by Business Insider.

More from Business Insider:

 

More From ScienceAlert

Scientists have figured out why human skin doesn’t leak

Despite us losing 500 million skin cells per day.

10 hours ago
New evidence suggests Parkinson's might start in the gut, not the brain

We might have been wrong about Parkinson's this whole time.

13 hours ago
WATCH: Jupiter's moons make actual sine waves

Our mathematical Universe is not what it seems.

15 hours ago