U.S. Navy Dolphin Identifies “Hostile Swimmer”

Candice Gaukel Andrews October 11, 2012 9

Dolphins have developed the ability to use echolocation to help them see better underwater.

Despite how you feel about dolphins serving in the U.S. military, it’s fascinating to witness their precision and intelligence while performing their assigned tasks.

In the video below posted at Military.com in April 2011, CNN correspondent Kaj Larsen plays the role of a terrorist in San Diego Bay. He tries to evade a dolphin trained to find hostile swimmers. But whether he’s underwater or on the surface, the dolphin finds him every time—and hits him with a marker that alerts human security personnel to his presence and location.

As Chris Harris of the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program explains, dolphins are able to pick out details on an object in the water that sonar just isn’t capable of doing. In addition, dolphins can do it at great ranges and with 100 percent reliability.

That’s a performance review that any member of the U.S. Navy should be proud of.

Here’s to finding your true places and natural habitats,



  1. Heidi November 25, 2015 at 8:44 am - Reply

    Fantastic article. It seems to me that the dolphins enjoy their job. I’d like to see a follow up on the other marine mammals used in the Marine Mammal Systems, with demonstrations of the different training & jobs they do.
    On a side note, good thing the dolphin is so well trained, can you imagine what a hard hit an untrained dolphin could do?

  2. Mark Fuge October 14, 2012 at 4:30 pm - Reply

    That’s why they are there, to help their handlers in time of need, like a watch dog or horse has been accepted to do in the past.

    They are very helpful to the military and if they help save lives, that is an awesome exchange between man and animals. We need to accept these roles for our planet neighbors and in return treat them as if they were our friends or family, if not better. As long as they are not mishandled and are properly trained to do their task, I for one appreciate their contribution to our safety and freedom.

  3. Art Hardy October 14, 2012 at 9:23 am - Reply

    Seems to me that the dolphin could swim away whenever it wants to and may even be enjoying this job.

  4. Mark October 14, 2012 at 5:51 am - Reply

    I don’t find this any different than the drug sniffing dogs, or pack horses and mules, etc. that we live with. We are just using a fellow creature for a humanitarian purpose. If we can save a life of one of our freedom fighters, who willingly go in harm’s way for our freedom and security, so be it.

    I love dolphins and would only object if they were mistreated and not properly cared for. However, there are many cases of animals being used for the betterment of mankind.

    Many people love keeping and riding horses, but never think of the feelings of the horse to be stabled and bridled, rather than free to roam the range. It’s no different here, considering that we took horses into battle since the early days of man riding them. But we have come to accept that, as well as the household dog or cat that has been domesticated from wild stock.

  5. Carlyn October 12, 2012 at 6:00 pm - Reply

    Wow, Candy, what an emotional issue you gave us this time! When we consider saving human lives, we again have the age old question: does the end justify the means? I suspect that if one is or has a loved one in the area where these uniquely suited animals can contribute, the answer is yes. If one sees this as cruel exploitation,
    the answer is obviously no. If the species involved were less iconic or perhaps deemed rather disgusting, would there still be outrage? An international code is certainly a worthy goal, but we all know how well most of those work out (think whales).

  6. J. K. October 12, 2012 at 12:45 pm - Reply

    That was really cool and another testament to the amazing abilities of animals.

  7. Neaz S. October 12, 2012 at 12:44 pm - Reply

    In the Sundarbans, I found that otters were used for fishing and I felt bad for the helpless creatures. I have similar feelings for the dolphins used by the US Navy.

  8. Dr.Jagdish Mittal October 12, 2012 at 8:24 am - Reply

    It is the human who can use any animal the way he likes

  9. jen October 11, 2012 at 8:38 am - Reply

    poor dolphin

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