Did you know that over on the bay side of Point Loma, at the Naval station at Ballast Point – where they keep the nuclear subs – the Navy has been quietly training dolphins and sea lions for underwater duty. This includes finding mines and detecting invading swimmers.
The Navy has been using dolphins like this since at least the mid-Seventies when the sea-going mammals were housed out near the Point Loma Lighthouse.
Jeanette Steele at the U-T San Diego had a long piece in today’s edition about all of this:
Like the factory worker and travel agent before them, some Navy dolphins trained to hunt down mines are scheduled to be replaced by computers in five years.
However, the Navy’s marine mammals aren’t going away. Military-trained dolphins and sea lions will continue to be used for port security and retrieving objects from the sea floor — jobs they are still better at than machines.
The Navy’s $28 million marine mammal program, headquartered in San Diego, uses 80 bottle-nosed dolphins and 40 California sea lions.
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