Photos: U.S. Navy’s dolphin and seal program

BY Vanessa Dennis  March 26, 2014 at 5:50 PM EDT
Koa, an Atlantic Bottlenose dolphin, is shown being transported in an inflatable boat. The Navy uses dolphins operated by Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 1, to locate and mark mines for neutralization or exploitation.  US Navy Photo

Koa, an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, is transported in an inflatable boat. The Navy uses dolphins operated by Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 1 to locate and mark mines for neutralization or exploitation. Photo by U.S. Navy

A Russian news agency reported Wednesday that the Russian military will be using a fleet of military dolphins trained by the Ukrainian Navy.

The United States Navy has been training mammals since 1960.

U.S. Navy has found that the biological sonar of dolphins, called echolocation, makes them uniquely effective at locating sea mines so they can be avoided or removed. Other marine mammals like the California sea lion also have demonstrated the ability to mark and retrieve objects for the Navy in the ocean.

The U.S. Navy mammal program will be retired by 2017. It’s expected that unmanned vehicles like the General Dynamics Knifefish will replace the dolphins.


K-Dog, a Bottle Nose Dolphin leaps out of the water in front Sgt. Andrew Garrett while training near the USS Gunston Hall in the Arabian Gulf in 2003. These units were conducting deep/shallow water mine countermeasure operations to clear shipping lanes for humanitarian relief during Operation Iraqi Freedom.  US Navy Photo

In 2003, while training near the USS Gunston Hall in the Arabian Gulf, bottle nose dolphin K-Dog leaps out of the water before Sgt. Andrew Garrett. These units were conducting deep/shallow water mine countermeasure operations to clear shipping lanes for humanitarian relief during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Photo by U.S. Navy


Photo by U.S. Navy

United States Navy marine mammal experts train a sea lion. Photo by U.S. Navy


United States Navy marine mammal experts train a sea lion. Gliding through the water to locate mines, handcuff terrorists and take part in surveillance these amazing animals are the real Navy Seals. Photo by U.S. Navy

Gliding through the water to locate mines, handcuff terrorists and take part in surveillance these amazing animals are the real Navy Seals. Photo by U.S. Navy


A U.S. Naval dolphin marks a practice mine tethered in the water column, for relocation and investigation by human divers  at a NATO underwater research centre in the bay at La Spezia, Italy in 2009. Photo by United States Navy

At a NATO underwater research center in the bay of La Spezia, Italy in 2009, a U.S. Naval dolphin marks a practice mine for relocation and investigation by human divers. Photo by U.S. Navy


Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey visits the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program and is given a tour by Sailors assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit in San Diego in 2012. Photo by U.S. Navy

In 2012, Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey visits the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program and is given a tour by sailors assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit in San Diego. Photo by U.S. Navy