For better or for worse, humans have been training dolphins as soldiers of war since at least the 1960s; even to this day, the Russian government in particular has been known to enlist them in subterfuge.
But twenty years ago, the cash-strapped and crumbling Soviet Union sold a group of highly-trained aquatic assets to the Iranian government. Military.com (a subsidiary of Monster, apparently) has a good breakdown of the history, pulling largely from a BBC article published in 2000:
In 1991, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the dolphin unit was sent to the Crimean Peninsula from a base in the Russian Pacific area. There, the dolphins were trained to kill enemy frogmen using harpoons mounted on their backs. They would also swim at enemy ships in suicide attacks while carrying explosive sea mines, as they were able to distinguish between Russian and American submarines by the sounds their propulsion systems make underwater.
The highly trained killer dolphins were moved from the Black Sea to the Persian Gulf after Iran purchased them -- for reasons unknown. According to the Russian newspaper, Zhurid's work, which supposedly continued in Iran after the 2000 sale, was solely of a military nature.
It's a weird little factoid of military history. But here's the catch: dolphins can live for around 50 years. Which means that some of these dolphins could still be alive today. Which means it's not not impossible that a pod of these haggard soldiers is hanging around the coastal US, waiting for their retaliatory strike — though whether that would be against the country's foreign policy, or its oversights in regards to noise pollution from seismic testing, that's still up in the air. Read the rest
Trump's about to make a bunch of whales, turtles, and dolphins go deaf.
The Trump administration is about to take a preliminary step toward oil and natural gas drilling off the Atlantic shore, by approving requests from energy companies to conduct “deafening seismic tests that could harm tens of thousands of dolphins, whales and other marine animals,” reports the Los Angeles Times. Read the rest
As a result of noisy ship engines and the racket of ocean mining, bottlenose dolphins have slowly reducing the complexity and changing the frequency of their calls. According to new research from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and published in the journal Biology Letters
, "the noise-induced simplification of dolphin whistles may reduce the information content in these acoustic signals and decrease effective communication, parent–offspring proximity or group cohesion." From YaleEnvironment360
“It’s kind of like trying to answer a question in a noisy bar and after repeated attempts to be heard, you just give the shortest answer possible,” Bailey said. “Dolphins simplified their calls to counter the masking effects of vessel noise.”
Dolphins are highly social animals and use their calls to stay together as a group, talk as they feed, and call out their names when they meet new members of their species. Each animal has a distinctive whistle, which typically uses complex sound patterns with variations in pitch and frequency.
photo: US Navy
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Andrew Hill was stand-up paddleboarding off Gracetown, Western Australia when a pod of dolphins interrupted his fun.
“Eight or nine of them decided to catch that wave and surf straight at me, which has happened lots of times in the past to me and generally they just take off to one side left or right,” Hill told PerthNow. “It's good to see dolphins. Surfers like seeing dolphins, but obviously I'd prefer them to stay a little bit further away than they did yesterday.”
I'm sure they'd prefer the same of Mr. Hill.
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Using a black plastic comb and a simple wooden toothpick, a girl beckoned some captive dolphins from the other side of their windowed prison.
Her dad, Brad Meszaros, writes:
My daughter tried several different ways to have the Seaworld dolphins come to her. She tried different toys, a cell phone, tapping the glass, and different movements, none of these worked consistently for her. She did some online research and found the comb method and thought she’d give it a try. The next time she went to SeaWorld, she played the comb for the dolphins and they loved it!
Clever, but SeaWorld? Seriously...? Are we still taking our kids there?
(Digg) Read the rest
Damian Christie captured video of these frolicking bottlenose dolphins chasing his boat through the Marlborough Sounds in New Zealand. Read the rest
Spectrograms of dolphin calls are closer to written English than the signatures I'm able to scrawl on credit card machines in grocery stores. We really should stop messing with these people—who knows what they might be up to?
Voices in the Sea has recordings of twelve different species. Don't miss the selection of videos of acoustic research. Read the rest
Team dolphin all the way, you guys.
A woman at SeaWorld Orlando was trying to take a photograph of the marine mammal show with her iPad, when a dolphin popped up out of the water and grabbed it from her.
"As you can see, the dolphins can reach your loose items," a voice can be heard saying over a loudspeaker. Read the rest
Dorina Rosin, a "spiritual healer," plans to give birth in the sea with the aid of dolphins. Among other benefits, Rosin and partner Maika Suneagle believe that their baby will speak dolphin. Read the rest
According to an article in the Palestinian daily al-Quds, Israel has "recruited a watery pet, the dolphin, known for his friendship with humans, to use for operations to kill Qassam Brigade Naval Commandos." Read the rest
Amazing video of dolphins that have learned how to dine in style. This hunting behavior, according to Discovery, hasn't been found in any other pod on Earth.
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Leia is a beautiful dog whose sharp eyes spotted a struggling fellow mammal on the beach. Leia's owner recorded his rescue of the little guy. Read the rest
In 1964, Margaret Howe Lovatt, working with psychedelic dolphin researcher John Lilly, began to live with one of the animals full-time as part of a NASA-funded study about interspecies communication; a new documentary about Lovatt, titled "The Girl Who Talked to Dolphins," airs on BBC4 later this month. Above, a clip of Lovatt talking about how she developed a deep intimate relationship with Peter the dolphin that veered into the sexual. At the time, a sexploitative article in Hustler, the high weirdness of the experiments itself that included giving LSD to dolphins, and myriad other unpleasant issues, brought the project to a very sad end.
"The dolphin who loved me: the Nasa-funded project that went wrong" (The Observer) Read the rest
Check out Scicurious' report on a recent research paper entitled "Spontaneous Ejaculation in a Wild Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops aduncus)" — in which we learn that dolphins can masturbate (yes, even without hands), but, frankly, they don't always need to. That's because male dolphins can have what amount to wet dreams ... sudden, unexpected orgasms that happen in their sleep. And, um, there's video. If you're into that kind of thing. Read the rest
Rebecca Morelle: "Research has revealed that the marine mammals use a unique whistle to identify each other. A team from the University of St Andrews in Scotland found that when the animals hear their own call played back to them, they respond." [PNAS and BBC] Read the rest