Military-trained Dolphins
K-Dog a Bottle Nose Dolphin belonging to Commander Task Unit (CTU-55.4.3) leaps out of the water in front of Sergeant Andrew Garrett while training near the USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) operating in the Arabian Gulf, March 18, 2003. This is a multinational team consisting of Naval Special Clearance Team-One, Fleet Diving Unit Three from the United Kingdom, Clearance Dive Team from Australia, and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Units Six and Eight. These units are conducting deep/shallow water mine counter measure operations to clear shipping lanes for humanitarian relief. Reuters

Three “killer dolphins” escaped a Ukraine naval base, according to RIA Novosti, Russia’s state-owned news agency. The three dolphins were reportedly being trained by the Ukrainian military to detect mines as well as possibly attack enemy swimmers, reports The Huffington Post. During a training exercise involving five of these “killer dolphins,” three went missing and an expert believes they went off looking for love.

This was part of a routine training exercise near the port city of Sevastopol, located on the coast of the Black Sea, which is home to Russian and Ukrainian Naval fleets. The Ukrainian Defense Military has denied the reports, claiming they use dolphins as part of naval efforts despite photos depicting military equipment attached to these mammals, notes RIA Novosti. The news agency has also denied any reports of “killer dolphins” escaping during an exercise off the coast of Sevastopol.

According to an expert that spoke to RIA Novosti, the dolphins were looking for love when they escaped. According to Yury Plyachenko, a “former Soviet naval anti-sabotage officer,” the dolphins were possibly looking for mates when they escaped. Speaking to the news agency, Plyachenko said, “If a male dolphin saw a female dolphin during the mating season, then he would immediately set off after her. But they came back in a week or so.” Military programs designed to train dolphins date as far back as 1973, when the Soviet Union first explored the idea to use the mammals for naval purposes, including searching for mines or placing explosives on enemy ships, notes RIA Novosti. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the dolphin training program was handed over to the Ukrainian navy.

Military-trained dolphins are nothing new, reports HuffPo. The United States Navy also had dolphin-training programs that aided military forces during the Vietnam War, but the program was not designed to teach the dolphins to kill. Other Soviet-trained sea mammals, including dolphins, seals and walruses, found a home in Iran after being sold by Boris Zhurid, when he could no longer feed and provide proper medical treatment to the 27 animals, reports BBC.