Flipper fights terror

How the U.S. Navy uses dolphins and sea lions to protect its subs

How’s this for cool? The U.S. Navy has a trained fleet of 78 dolphins, 27 sea lions and one beluga whale that sounds an alarm if strange swimmers or other vessels come near their high-security ports. Basically, the dolphins are given a floating marker that they can position on the surface above any suspicious visitors lurking underwater, alerting patrol officers nearby. “It’s like people-fishing,” says Dorian Houser, a research scientist for the Navy’s marine mammal program. The fleet is currently deployed to the Kings Bay submarine base in southeast Georgia, and over the years, it has worked in war zones like Vietnam and Iraq. But controversy is brewing because the Pentagon wants to use the dolphins in the chilly waters off Puget Sound, Wash. Environmentalists say the creatures aren’t accustomed to such frigid temperatures, and may not survive. (One protest group, Knitting for Dolphins, is showing its displeasure by, well, knitting sweaters for the dolphins).

The Los Angeles Times