Why did the Soviet Union recruit dolphins in the last century?

In the past decades, the Soviet Union tended to recruit and train animals in order to carry out special missions to serve its interests. In the midst of World War II, the Soviets did not hesitate to use dogs to attack German tanks.

During that period, the dogs received training to provide them with explosive belts, detonated from a distance, coinciding with getting them used to searching for their food under the tanks.

After starving them for long periods of time, the Soviets release these dogs at German tanks before detonating them remotely.

In the midst of the Cold War, the Soviets did not hesitate to rely on Whales and dolphins To protect their interests and spy on other countries, these animals were recruited and trained to enter the waters of hostile countries to photograph and transmit information about the movements of their naval forces.

Soviet Marine Life Program

In the early 1960s, the US Navy turned to training marine mammals to retrieve underwater objects and to spot sneaky swimmers.

The Americans then tended to rely on whales and dolphins thanks to their high ability to identify things underwater based on echoes and the high level of intelligence enjoyed by these animals.

In addition, the dolphins were an important tool for identifying sea mines and for drawing stray swimmers to the surface by trapping them and forcing them to climb upwards.

A picture of one of the British Navy frogmen

According to many sources, the US Navy previously relied on dolphins and sea lions to protect its ships in Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, and to locate marine mines in a number of seas around the world.

During the mid-1960s, the Soviets launched their own Black Sea marine life program in Sevastopol, on the Crimean peninsula.

This program, which relied on marine mammals, was directed for military purposes, the most prominent of which was espionage missions against NATO sites in the region. In 1984, the Soviets opened a second center in the Arctic Ocean within what was known as the Institute of Marine Biology in Murmansk.

Trained Soviet dolphins

In addition, the Soviets tended to recruit and train marine mammals for fear of sabotage operations that NATO commandos might lead against Soviet targets in the Black and Baltic seas.

During that period, NATO enjoyed an important superiority over the Soviets in the field of naval commando operations, thanks to the experience of the Italians, who used frogmen in World War II to launch special operations against Allied ships and destroy many of them.

A picture of an American submarine

A picture of an American submarine

According to reports by the CIA in 1976, the Soviet program for recruiting and training marine mammals faced many difficulties in its early years, as a significant number of dolphins died at the time due to improper diet, lack of medical care, and the inability of some dolphins to adapt to climate changes in the areas in which they were placed.

In the hope of obtaining dolphins suitable for military action, the Soviets later turned to obtaining the services of circus and water club workers to train dolphins and beluga whales known to some as beluga whales or white dolphins.

These trained mammals were then used extensively in deep-sea retrieval and reconnaissance operations, and were also relied upon in NATO submarine locating missions.

New dolphin training program

However, with the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, Ukraine acquired the Marine Mammal Training Center located in Crimea, following the annexation of the region to Ukraine. During the year 2001, the Russian official on the program, Boris Zhurid, did not hesitate to sell a number of trained dolphins to Iran.

In 2016, the Russian government issued a tender for the purchase of 5 trained dolphins for military purposes from the Utrish Dolphinarium, for an amount equivalent to $26,000.

Photo of a Soviet submarine

Photo of a Soviet submarine

At the time, the Russian government stipulated that it obtain flawless dolphins, 3 males and 2 females, to complete this deal. Since then, Russian authorities have highlighted a new program to train dolphins capable of launching deadly attacks against enemy divers.

On the other hand, the US authorities rejected this program and spoke of their rejection of the idea of ​​training dolphins and killer whales.

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