Posted by: The ocean update | June 1, 2017

Russia sea tests white whales for military purposes in Arctic waters

There is a long history of dolphins and seals being trained in Sevastopol. Picture : Mikhail Semenov

June 1st, 2017. But seals prove more adept at undertaking polar missions, including potentially killing intruders, say experts.

White whales (Ed Sibylline : belugas = dolphins), seals and dolphins have been trained for Arctic military roles, according to a report by TV Zvezda, owned by the Defence Ministry.

There is a long history of dolphins and seals being trained in Sevastopol, in Crimea, dating back to Soviet times, and US naval forces has trained and deployed sea mammals in military roles.

A new role in the Arctic – where Russia is restoring its military presence which was reduced after the end of the USSR – is a revelation.

Intriguingly work was done to assess if white whales could be used to ‘guard entrances to naval bases’ in polar regions,  ‘assist deep water divers and if necessary kill any strangers who enter their territory’, according to the report.

Training was conducted by Murmansk Sea Biology Research Institute for the country’s Northern Navy, it was reported.

‘Mainly it was about white whales with highly sensitive sonars,’ stated the Zvezda story. ‘It was planned that white whales could be on duty at the entrances to naval bases.

‘But (they) turned to be very delicate animals – they easily got ill after long swimming in cold polar waters.’

So whales were seen as less capable that ‘seal-killers’.

‘These animals are very strong with good guarding reactions’, said the report. ‘Even after a one year break in training the seal will keep all oral commands in its memory.’

Ringed, bearded, grey and Greenland seals have been put through their paces, as have bottle-nosed dolphins in a programme financed by the Russian Academy of Sciences.

‘They can locate mines and lift objects from deep waters. It is enough to show and object to a seal and it will find it at the bottom.

‘The seal can be actively in touch with a diver – it can bring up a tool or carry away something, and it can distinguish ‘his’ diver from a stranger.

‘If the seal receives a special signal, it can block or kill the underwater saboteur.’

Bearded seals have come out on top as ‘special forces’ underwater combatants in northern conditions, it is understood.

Scientist Gennady Matishov said they had high ‘professionalism’, and humans are seen as happier to deal with seals than – for example – sea lions.

Yet seals are also known to become distracted and – for example – males may disappear if they decide to chase a female.

An open tender shows the Defence Ministry last year bought five bottle-nosed dolphins aged  between three and five.

The US is known to use sea animals to search for missing people at sea, to hunt for mines, and find and lift objects from the sea floor.

Ed Sibylline : when Navy doesn’t destroy marine life, it enslaves it !

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