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10 ways animals have served the military

By: Laura Moss on Sept. 17, 2010, 11:20 a.m.
dolphin in the U.S. Navy's Marine Mammal Program

Photo: Beverly & Pack/Flickr

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Dolphin spies

Dolphins have been serving in the U.S. Navy for more than 40 years as part of the Navy’s Marine Mammal Program, and they were used during the Vietnam War and Operation Iraqi Freedom. These highly intelligent animals are trained to detect, locate and mark mines — not to mention suspicious swimmers and divers.

For example, in 2009 a group of bottlenose dolphins began patrolling the area around Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Washington. The marine mammals are on the lookout 24 hours a day, seven days a week for swimmers or divers in the base’s restricted waters.

What happens if a dolphin finds an intruder? The dolphin touches a sensor on a boat to alert its handler, and the handler then places a strobe light or noisemaker on the dolphin's nose. The dolphin is trained to swim to the intruder, bump him or her from behind to knock the device off its nose and swim away while military personnel take over.