The United States Navy plans to use dolphins and sea lions — which can detect underwater saboteurs at night — to protect submarines at a base near Seattle.
The Los Angeles Times reports that animal activists are concerned that the Atlantic bottle-nosed dolphins, which are unused to such cold water, will suffer in the Puget Sound.
Dolphin biologist Toni Frohoff told the newspaper that some of the Atlantic dolphins were captured in the Caribbean and that “they don’t have the physiology to adapt” to 45-55 degree water.
At one of two public hearings in Seattle, the Navy offered to heat the dolphins’ holding pens, but critics said the temperature fluctuations might compromise their health in the long run.
The Navy has a total 78 dolphins, 27 sea lions and one beluga, all of which are highly trained and can physically help capture trespassers.
“Navy’s plan to deploy dolphins roils waters”
Los Angeles Times, February 13, 2009