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Ear to the Ground

A Novel Approach to Homeland Security

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Posted on Feb 13, 2007

The Navy is hoping to deploy a group of dolphins and sea lions to protect a base on the Puget Sound from the risk of scuba-diving terrorists. Seriously. Not surprisingly, PETA thinks it’s a bad plan.


The base is home to submarines, ships and laboratories and is potentially vulnerable to attack by terrorist swimmers and scuba divers, the notice states.

Several options are under consideration, but the preferred plan would be to send as many as 30 California sea lions and Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins from the Navy’s Marine Mammal Program, based in San Diego.

“These animals have the capabilities for what needs to be done for this particular mission,” said Tom LaPuzza, a spokesman for the Marine Mammal Program.

LaPuzza said that because of their astonishing sonar abilities, dolphins are excellent at patrolling for swimmers and divers. When a Navy dolphin detects a person in the water, it drops a beacon. This tells a human interception team where to find the suspicious swimmer.

Dolphins also are trained to detect underwater mines; they were sent to do this in the Iraqi harbor of Umm Qasr in 2003. The last time the animals were used operationally in San Diego was in 1996, when they patrolled the bay during the Republican National Convention.

Sea lions can carry in their mouths special cuffs attached to long ropes. If the animal finds a rogue swimmer, it can clamp the cuff around the person’s leg. The individual can then be reeled in for questioning.

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By Diver Al, February 18, 2007 at 10:38 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As a safety/emergency response consultant and a scuba diver, I think this idea needs some refinement.  Terrorist are less likey to attack a military base, they would probably do something which would affect the general area giving them much greater news coveage.  While the marine animals could detect and underwater attacker, I do not think this would a primary attack point.

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By Steve Hammons, February 14, 2007 at 9:30 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Another angle to the Navy dolphin news is something many people aren’t aware of.

Research into ESP, including remote viewing research conducted as part of Project STARGATE apparently involved marine mammals.

The article referenced below may be of interest.

-  -  -

Navy dolphins may be deployed: Did secret ESP research involve them?

Steve Hammons
American Chronicle
February 14, 2007

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By Dennis D, February 13, 2007 at 7:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

At least it’s not the Miami Dolphins so it just might work. Homeland Insecurity never sleeps, they just take very long naps.

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By PatrickHenry, February 13, 2007 at 6:08 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

These people obviously have too much of the taxpayers money in their hands.

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By joneden, February 13, 2007 at 5:45 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am a little disappointed, and surprised, to see that they have not chosen a species this is endangered. This is really no way to carry out a throughly ANTI LIFE policy.

Cheers! jon
For an irreverent (and relevant) look at the climate change report, see

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By mike, February 13, 2007 at 10:54 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Sea lions can carry in their mouths special cuffs attached to long ropes. If the animal finds a rogue swimmer, it can clamp the cuff around the person’s leg. The individual can then be reeled in for questioning.”

This must be a joke or something…am I logged onto “The Onion” or something?

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By Frank, February 13, 2007 at 10:25 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

CPTL, sarcasm only works when it is representing an informed opinion. I guess you never heard of limpet mines? 

Limpets are a special kind of mine that has been around since before WW2, designed to be attached to a ship’s hull underwater by a swimmer/diver.  There is a long history of ships being sunk using limpets, particularly during WW2, but also in later conflicts like Vietnam, where the US lost some vessels to Vietnamese divers. More recently, the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior in 1985 by the French government was done using these mines attached by divers.

The real danger is that this is a relatively easy, low-tech way to attack ships.  Swimmers and divers can be deployed from any ordinary looking boat or ship under cover of darkness, or from land.

I am all for protecting marine mammals from abuse, but I don’t see this use of them as any more abusive than Flipper doing tricks for sardines at the local aquarium.  In fact it is less so, given the more natural open water environment they will be in, versus a small enclosure.  If it will really help provide protection to US ships, then I say go for it.

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By Dr. Evil, February 13, 2007 at 9:42 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dolphins?!  When I ask for sharks with frickin’ laser beams on their heads, I expect sharks with frickin’ laser beams on their heads!

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By anonymous, February 13, 2007 at 9:33 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

How can you justify what’s done to people by our government and then prohibit mistreatment of animals?  If you’re not into serious sadism, you need not apply.  Everything military is a product of human failure and nobody does any of it better than U.S.

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By Jim Yell, February 13, 2007 at 8:07 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Oh Dear or Dear, not again.

I am not that comfortable with the use of guard dogs, bomb sniffing dogs are involving any of the animal kingdoms creatures in our human society of murder and abuse.

Trying to bring dolphins and other sea creatures into our wars and security is like returning horses to the battlefield, nothing good of it will come to the horse and little sense will come out of it for the animal.

Technology would fill the needs better than another expression of disdain for other creatures. We have enough guilt on our plates already for this kind of abuse. This program isn’t new and isn’t needed.

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By Christopher Robin, February 13, 2007 at 7:43 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

S.O.S....Flipper, can you hear me?

Flipper? help us! Save us from this Bush war monger fool. Send Georgie Jr. and Dickie Cheney back to the board room of some Savings and Loan. Or an Oily corporation.


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By C.P.T.L., February 13, 2007 at 6:30 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Underestimating the tenacity of fanatics is our biggest mistake. Who knows what could happen down there under the water? All of those terrorist swimmers and scuba divers might easily travel half way around the world and swim miles through frigid water to get at submarines. Just think of all the damage a swimmer could do to a submarine. Whatever the cost, this nation needs a substantial dolphin program with enough animals trained to guard all our ports and rivers night and day.

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