Russia uses trained dolphins at Black Sea naval base, satellite imagery shows


Russia deployed trained military dolphins during its invasion of Ukraine to protect its naval base in the Black Sea, satellite images have revealed.

The images showed that two dolphin enclosures were placed at the entrance to the port of Sevastopol, sheltered just inside a breakwater, at the time of the invasion of Ukraine.

The dolphins, discovered by an analysis by the US Naval Institute, could be placed there for “counter-diver operations” to prevent Ukrainian forces from infiltrating the port underwater to sabotage the warships.

Sevastopol Naval Base is a key asset for the Russian Navy during the war with Ukraine as it sits at the southern tip of Crimea which Russia annexed in 2014.

According to USNI analysis, many high-value Russian ships are kept out of Ukrainian missile range but are vulnerable to underwater sabotage.

“This could prevent Ukrainian special operations forces from infiltrating the underwater port to sabotage warships,” the USNI News report said.

It is not known whether Ukraine carried out such operations during the war.

Ukraine had previously trained dolphins in an aquarium near Sevastopol under a Soviet-era program that fell into oblivion in the 1990s.

It was revived in 2012, only for animals to be taken by Russia after the annexation of Crimea.

The United States and the Soviet Union are known to have developed the use of dolphins during the Cold War.

Dolphin echolocation can be useful in mine detection.

The United States is said to have spent at least $28 million to maintain its own collection of dolphins and sea lions for military purposes.

The discovery of a satellite is not the first time that Russia’s use of dolphins for military purposes has made headlines.

In 2018, the Black Sea Fleet Dolphins were deployed for several months to the Russian naval base in Tartous, Syria, according to satellite photos.

Later in 2019, a trained beluga appeared in Norway that locals dubbed “Hvaldimir.”

It was reported at the time that he was a potential escapee from the Russian Navy’s dolphin program.


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