WASHINGTON ― When it comes to minesweeping at the 2018 Rim of the Pacific exercises, the top sonar for the job isn’t located on any of the 46 ships and five subs sailing in the maneuvers.
Instead, the Navy relies on dolphins.
The highly-trained creatures “search for and mark the location of undersea mines” according to a description by the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program, which also deploys sea lions to recover suspicious objects at deep depths.
The dolphins “possess the most sophisticated sonar known to science,” allowing them to find mines in any depth or light when mechanical equipment is often less reliable, the Navy says.
That skill proves especially useful in crowded coastal waters or on murky sea floors. Navy RIMPAC footage released to the public shows dolphins, overseen by human trainers, finding practice mines and placing markers near them.
Their reward? A steady stream of fish treats.
Andrew is a student in the class of 2020 at the University of Notre Dame.