A team of six specially-trained bomb-sniffing dolphins was recently transported to the Croatian capital of Dubrovnik to point out hidden explosives along the coastline with Navy divers from the U.S. and Croatia, according to The Independent.
The dolphins, which are renowned for their superb underwater hearing, sight and sonar capabilities, are on a mission to search for unexploded ordnance from past wars, particularly the ‘90s-era Yugoslav Wars. The six dolphins belong to the U.S. Navy and will spend three weeks scoping for long-hidden explosive devices and marking them so that they can be photographed and rendered harmless by military divers. Their mission ends Oct. 18, according to Stars and Stripes.
The U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program
The trained dolphins are part of the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program, which also includes the use of trained California sea lions to achieve various military objectives — particularly finding and marking sea mines. Before being deployed, the six dolphins underwent two years of training at a San Diego Navy facility. Since 1959, the Navy has used dolphins to scout out various underwater items.
Minesweeping is a routine operation for elite teams of international military divers who are responsible for ensuring that underwater mines are neutralized before troops are sent to certain locations.
While humans are certainly up to the task, dolphins can make repeated dives without any danger of adverse side effects like decompression sickness, commonly known as “the bends.” The dolphins’ sonar is also far more accurate than any military machinery that’s used to detect explosives.
How Did the Dolphins Get There?
The bottlenose dolphins were transported to Dubrovnik via C-17 military jet, where they were stabilized by rubber hammocks and housed in special tanks that were partially filled with water, the Independent article noted.
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(Photo by Slobodan Lekic/Stars and Stripes via Stripes.com)
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