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Dolphins Aid in Search for Mines - 2003-03-28


You’ve heard of the Navy SEALS, but it is the Navy’s dolphins that are clearing the way for humanitarian aid shipments to reach the people of Iraq. Jim Bertel has the story.

Meet Makai, one of the U.S. Navy’s most valuable recruits. Makai is one of several dolphins searching for mines in the port of Umm Qasr.

Their work has already opened one channel into this strategic port city allowing ships carrying thousands of tons of food and medicine to unload.

The navy started using marine mammals in the early 1960’s when military researchers began looking into how sea mammals’ highly developed senses, like the dolphin’s sonar, could be harnessed to locate mines and other underwater hazards.

RICHARD HANSING, U.S. NAVY PETTY OFFICER FIRST CLASS
“We use their sonar. It’s incredible. So we use their sonar to look for mines in the oceans, bays, whatever. This happens to be the river. We’ll find the mines with them.”

The dolphins have been specially trained to avoid touching the mines, which might cause them to explode. Instead, the dolphins put a marker a short distance away so divers can find the mine and destroy it. It’s a dangerous job, but for these fun-loving dolphins, it’s all in a day’s work.

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