Russia will use dolphins to defend its ports .. But why?

Does Flipper have the makings of a Robocop? Or was he a secret spy? Comparison lends a smile yet. Black Sea satellite images published by several US media outlets, including NBC News, show Dolphin containers in the port of Sevastopol, Crimea. After Norwegian fishermen discovered in April 2019 a beluga wearing a belt stamped with “St. Petersburg equipment”, the hypothesis of the Russian army’s use of sea animals for military purposes was strengthened.

If there is one point on which experts are unanimous, it is that the dolphin has nothing to envy about James Bond on an intellectual level. “He has very complex cognitive and learning abilities. We can make him learn a very large number of exercises,” explains Fabian Delfour, behavioral scientist and zoologist. These animals can memorize a lot of information and know how to recognize shapes and structures and react accordingly. “Like all mammals, they are able to generalize and categorize. So if you teach them to recognize, say, a metal plate, they will know what to do, alert them or not,” the researcher specifies. Thus, if divers in his camp all wore a well-known distinctive sign of cetaceans, he would know whether or not the person spotting him was an outsider. Same for boats or submarines.

real walking radar

Thanks to advanced echolocation, the dolphin acts as a true undersea radar.By emitting “clicks,” it propagates ultrasound waves that bounce off all surfaces and return to them in the form of vibrations in a spongy structure located in the jaw. minimum. This organ, connected to the brain by the auditory nerve, allows it to scan the depths. A very precise instrument, according to a behavioral scientist: “It is capable of examining matter. Tests have shown that the difference can be distinguished between a wooden, lead or aluminum sphere, because the echo is not the same.” We can better understand the interest he might have in his deployment as an “observer” in a strategic port.

Especially if it has enough space and depth and is well fed, then the dolphin will have no reason to escape. For this purpose, Léa David, a physician in marine biology and cetacean specialist at the EcoOcéan Institute, takes the example of the Dolphin reef, found in the Red Sea: “Dolphins are only limited by floats on the surface. Even if they go out from time to time to play with the waves, they always come back. Because they are not being mistreated.”

Defender, but not necessarily attacker

Therefore, perhaps a guard dog is an attacking dog. Léa David doubts his abilities in this field: “He can defend himself against sharks or killer whales, until he can completely demolish a human. But I am not sure that he can attack or bite directly. The whale allergy has been demonstrated many times, and it is not believed Biologist that dolphins are capable of aggressiveness when driving: “They have a conscience that can hold them back; We know they can respond to someone else’s pain, for example.” On the other hand, a dolphin can attack a diver in toy form, according to Léa David: “We can teach them to rip their breathing system tube or diving bottles. We can even teach him to catch a man underwater.”

A dolphin can learn a route by heart, go from point A to point B, and complete an expedition with a camera on its back. “We even tried to get them to set up mines,” adds Fabian Delfour. An explosive device was harnessed on their backs. The dolphins then had to attach to the target structure, and the device was released by magnetism or by remote control. But this idea, imagined by the various powers, could have been abandoned.

Too playful to follow orders

“We know some have gone astray, others have been deserted,” laughs Fabian Delfour. Because each of the dolphins has its own personality: there are obedient personalities, and some are more rebellious. As for the world of behavior, whales can walk away from their task if they don’t find it entertaining enough or if they get tired of playing. Because it is capable of manipulating information and deceiving, a dolphin can well return to demand its reward without doing its duty. Specialists even reported the case of dolphins that were going back to their native habitat to play … with explosives on their backs, in order to deceive their trainer.

According to Fabian Delfour, it was this lack of reliability that made armies, particularly those of the United States, prefer to switch to other types. In particular, sea fins, such as sea lions or sea lions, are reputed to be more diligent in their work.

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