Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Diving into security

First, Douglas Adams makes them out to be the second-most intelligent creatures on the planet, behind white mice. Now, the United States Navy is interested to find out if dolphins can be used for guard duty. Specially trained groups of dolphins and sea lions are possibly going to be released to act as guard portions of the Pacific Northwest, including Kitsap-Bangor Naval Base in Washington state. Of course, this portion of the Pacific Ocean does include storage for about a quarter of all active (and inactive) nuclear weaponry.

The Navy has been working for years to train these marine mammals in colder-than-usual temperatures, and are preparing an environmental impact statement before making a final decision on the feasability of their plan within eighteen months. A previous attempt to utilize dolphins as guards was blocked in 1989, but the Navy feels that the plan should be able to go through this time around.

Of course, people may have difficulty thinking of dolphins or sea lions as guard animals, but that's not to say that they couldn't do such activities. After all, they are both incredibly agile species, with the sea lions even receiving training in using a form of handcuffs. The dolphins are being tapped for their ability to see longer distances. And both species can dive deeper and faster than a rottweiler with a SCUBA tank, without the worries of decompression that the dog may have to face.

Ultimately, the Navy may find it necessary to use dolphins and their kin in place of soldiers as guards. In fact, the Army may need to consider increasing their own usage of dogs, and the Air Force might want to look into training falcons. Not only will this free up soldiers for the ongoing surge in troop numbers overseas, but costs can be trimmed in what the guards are fed.

Besides, wouldn't it be kind of neat to see the dolphins sounding an alarm by doing flips through hoops, "walking" backwards across the water, and then batting a ball high into the air?

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