Russia seems to be scheming with dolphins — or preparing to draft the mammals in its military, at least.
Although Vladimir Putin’s government has not disclosed why, a new tender for the Ministry of Defense shows Russia spent a total of $26,000 to buy five bottlenose dolphins with “perfect teeth” and “motor activity” under a military contract.
The Utrish Dolphinarium in Moscow, the only bidder on the tender, will supply the three male and two female mammals — with “all teeth intact” and “no mucus from the blowhole” — by Aug. 1, according to NBC News.
Although the country apparently wants to keep the mysterious purchase and the reasons behind it under wraps, it’s not entirely ludicrous to assume the mammals would be trained for military purposes. The training might even include underwater weapon deployment, aquatic investigations and rescues — something the Soviet Union reportedly did during the Cold War.
Moreover, Kremlin has been training dolphins without explanation since the 1960s. In fact, when it conquered Crimea in 2014, it also claimed the marine creatures trained in the city of Sevastopol. The reports claimed the dolphins were being trained to kill, but the defense ministry denied the allegations in state-run media.
Retired Col. Viktor Baranets, who worked with military dolphins, recently told The Guardian the mammals were used to plant explosive devices on enemy ships. Scary, right?
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Interestingly, Russia is not the only country to enlist flippers into its military.
“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 website for U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program reads. “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.”
Whatever super-secret mission these dolphins are set to embark on, it is safe to assume it would be purely for military purposes, because what other possible use could a country’s navy have for mammals with powerful jaws?