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Russia buys dolphins for navy and no one knows why

New York Daily News New York Daily News 25/04/2016 JASON SILVERSTEIN

A Pacific white-sided dolphin. Representative pic. © Corbis A Pacific white-sided dolphin. Representative pic. Russia has at last drafted some dolphins into its navy, and still refuses to tell anyone why.

A tender for the Ministry of Defense this week shows Russia dropped a total of $26,000 for five bottlenose dolphins — about a month after announcing a search for marine mammals with perfect teeth and “motor activity.”

The tender says Moscow’s Utrish Dolphinarium will supply the three male and two female dolphins — with “all teeth intact” and “no mucus from the blowhole” — by Aug. 1, according to NBC News.

But there isn’t even a hint of what the dolphins will be doing.

If history is any guide, the cetacea will likely be used for aquatic investigations and rescues — something the Soviet Union did during the Cold War.

But there’s also the chance they could be killers.

Retired Col. Viktor Baranets, who worked with military dolphins during the Cold War, told The Guardian last month the dolphins were trained to plant explosive devices on enemy ships.

Whatever their intended use, Russia has been stepping up its hunt for flippers lately. When Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, it also claimed dolphins that had been trained in the city of Sevastopol since the 1960s — again, without explanation. But the Defense Ministry denied reports in state-run media that the dolphins were being trained to kill, according to the Washington Post.

The U.S. Navy has run its own dolphin training program since the Cold War, but claims it has no intention of using them for warfare.

The Navy warns on its website for the training program: “Since dolphins cannot discern the difference between enemy and friendly vessels, or enemy and friendly divers and swimmers, it would not be wise to give that kind of decision authority to an animal. The animals are trained to detect, locate, and mark all mines or all swimmers in an area of interest or concern, and are not trained to distinguish between what we would refer to as good or bad.”

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