Dolphins On Bosphorus

A school of Dolphins enjoying their freedom of navigation in Bosphorus. Their nationalities was not identified.

A school of Dolphins enjoying their freedom of navigation in Bosphorus. Their nationalities were not identified.

On 21 April the Russian RIA Novosti website published an article speculating that US military-trained dolphins and sea lions will participate in upcoming NATO military exercises in the Black Sea. And the source of this speculation was a report on Russian Izvestiya newspaper.

The paper, citing a spokesman for the US Navy’s marine mammals program, said some 20 dolphins and 10 sea lions will participate in exercises.
The exercises will test new equipment designed to “disorient enemy sonars, while sea lions and dolphins are looking for mines and military divers,” the newspaper wrote.
The exercises will be held under the marine mammals’ training program, which trains animals to protect ships and harbors and detect mines.
“In addition, we plan to test new armor for dolphins developed by a specialized research center based in the University of Hawaii,” the newspaper said, citing spokesman Tom LaPuzza.
The animals are to be airlifted to Ukraine. This will be the first NATO drill to involve military dolphins. The US military now has more than 100 bottlenose dolphins, California sea lions and beluga whales, according to LaPuzza.
The exercises are planned to last no longer than two weeks. Under an international agreement, the maximum permitted duration of stay for countries that do not have access to the Black Sea is 21 days.
It was previously announced that Russia will also use dolphins in its Black Sea navy missions. Military dolphins and sea lions that were undergoing training for the Ukrainian Navy before the Crimean Peninsula was reunited with Russia last month have been transferred to the Russian Navy.

This almost absurd story was quickly denied by US Navy.

The U.S. Navy says there’s no truth to a widely circulating report that its mine-hunting dolphins are heading for the Black Sea, where the Russian Navy has recently taken control of Ukraine’s military-trained dolphins.

The report popped up on the Russian newspaper Izvestia’s website on Monday, in connection with claims that NATO countries might participate in military exercises with Ukraine or other nations in the Black Sea region this summer.
The report includes extensive quotes from a a source that Izvestia identified as Navy spokesman Tom LaPuzza — and it spawned follow-up items at online outlets ranging from the Daily Mail to The Wire to International Business Times UK.
Such items caught the attention of Ed Budzyna, who really is a spokesman for the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program in San Diego. For decades, the Navy has been training dolphins and seals to identify explosives, mines and other foreign objects underwater — as have the Russians and Ukrainians.

Budzyna noted that LaPuzza had been a spokesman for the Marine Mammal Program years back, but no longer. Efforts to contact LaPuzza, and efforts to figure out how Izvestia got its information, have so far been unsuccessful

I will look with a different eye to the dolphins I see in (on?) Bosphorus from now on.

2 Responses to Dolphins On Bosphorus

  1. A.D. Baker III says:

    USN dolphins are easily identified by their desert camouflage uniforms and uncomfortable boots. In any case, the USN has been downsizing its dolphin program for the past several years.

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