Earlier this month, Russia seized Ukraine’s Crimea region. The nation that famously and aggressively annexed Crimea is at it again, but this time they’re setting their sights on Crimea’s military assets — specifically Crimea’s combat dolphins. Military dolphins are “not just any dolphins,” CNN reported Thursday. “These highly trained military mammals detect risks such as sea mines or enemy scuba divers trying to slip through. Sea mines are sophisticated weapons that can sink ships and other watercraft.”
A Russian news agency revealed the country’s intentions to take over Crimea’s dolphin combat program. Russia will re-train the dolphins to detect dangers for their own navy. Crimea claims it had intentions to disband factions of military dolphins, owing to outdated training and equipment; Crimea did, however, own up to having “an ocean dolphin facility but declined to provide details, saying they’re classified,” CNN added. Nations first began training dolphins for military purposes in the 1960s.
Ukraine and Russia are not the only countries using dolphins as an integral part of navy intelligence programs. In fact, a San Diego-based, U.S. facility also trains dolphins to detect threats in the water or along the ocean floor.
“In addition to bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), the U.S. program also uses California sea lions (Zalophus californianus). The mammals are used to find underwater mines and locate divers or “frogmen” through the use of sonar (dolphins) or keen underwater nighttime vision (sea lions),” LiveScience explained. The site adds that fears that Russians may train dolphins to attack humans are unfounded: “Dolphins cannot discern the difference between enemy and friendly vessels, or enemy and friendly divers and swimmers, it would not be wise to give that kind of decision authority to an animal.”
Military dolphins also have no history of attacking or showing aggression toward humans.