Russia has successfully annexed the Ukrainian Crimea and stormed its neighbor’s naval bases there, but it may have seized its biggest prize this week — an elite combat unit of trained dolphins.
The program, dating back to the 1960s, was scheduled to be disbanded later this year but now remains in control of the Russian Navy, RIA Novosti reported on Wednesday:
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. Man-made sonar systems are often incapable of detecting such small objects in crowded environments such as harbors.
The Ukrainian program also trained sea lions. The U.S. Navy runs a similar program at a facility in San Diego that trained dolphins to detect underwater mines, but it is reportedly being phased out.
h/t Business Insider