Russia has deployed trained dolphins at its naval base in the Black Sea to possibly protect its fleet from an underwater attack, The Guardian reported.
Russia has a history of training dolphins for military purposes. They are used to retrieve objects or deter enemy divers.
The US Naval Institute (USNI) -- who reviewed satellite imagery of the naval base at Sevastopol harbor in Crimea, and discovered that two dolphin pens were shifted to the base in February when Russia invaded Ukraine.
Sevastopol is the Russian Navy’s most significant naval base in the Black Sea as it sits in the southern tip of Crimea which Moscow had annexed in 2014. The dolphins may be tasked with counter-diver operations since many of the Russian ships anchored there are vulnerable to undersea attacks, the USNI stated.
This could prevent Ukrainian special operations forces from infiltrating the harbor underwater to sabotage Russian warships.
Ukraine had also trained dolphins at an aquarium near Sevastopol, in a programme born out of a Soviet-era scheme but it fell into neglect in the 1990s.
It was revived in 2012 by the Ukrainian navy, but it fell into the hands of the Russians after the invasion of Crimea in 2014. Moscow now plans to expand the scheme.
“Our specialists developed new devices that convert dolphins’ underwater sonar detection of targets into a signal to the operator’s monitor. The Ukrainian navy lacked funds for such know-how, and some projects had to be mothballed,” one source told the Russian news agency, The Guardian reported.
During the cold war, both the Soviet Union and the US used trained military dolphins whose echolocation capabilities would allow them to detect underwater mines, The Guardian report stated.
The US has spent at least $28 million maintaining its own troops of dolphins and sea lions. Currently, the country's 70 dolphins and 30 sea lions -- at a naval base in San Diego -- search for objects and patrol restricted waters.
Both naval animals are intelligent and their natural senses have beat out the capabilities of any machine or computer created by humans, another report stated.
Apart from their echolocation capabilities, sea lions and dolphins have excellent eyesight, and have helped the military find lost devices.