Russia has earned itself international condemnation for it annexation of the Ukrainian province of Crimea. Now it seems that humans are not the only ones going over to the Russians in droves. Ukraine’s military dolphin program, which uses the animals for search and rescue operations as well as detecting underwater threats, is scheduled to be transferred to the Russian Navy very soon.
The Ria Novosti news agency has reported that the robust Ukraine dolphin program, which is located in the strategic Crimean city of Sevastopol, is a prized possession of the Ukrainian military. The dolphins use their biological sonar to detect threats and even prevent enemy divers from making landfall. Additionally the program utilizes sea lions to patrol the depths of the oceans that are inaccessible to conventional military technologies. The sea lions are also expected to become Russian citizens.
While the sea animals are now Ukrainian, their origins are Russian just like the people of Crimea. The program was started by the Soviet Union in the sixties and was transferred to the Ukrainian Navy when the Soviet Union collapsed. The Ukrainian military planned on shuttering the program in April of this year as funding for military programs has become more scarce in recent years.
With the Russian take over of Crimea almost complete, employees of the neglected program are hoping that there will be an influx of cash to not only maintain the military dolphin program but to expand its reach. One of the employees told the press:
“The oceanarium’s engineers are developing new instruments for new applications to boost the operational efficiency of the dolphins underwater. While scientists had developed sophisticated methods to transfer signals from the dolphins’ sonar to a computerized radar system, the Ukrainian navy lacked sufficient funding to push the project forward”.
The Ukrainian military dolphin program is only one of two programs like it in the whole world. In the 1960’s the US created the Navy Marine Mammal Program (NMMP) in San Diego, California.
Do you think the Dolphins or Sea Lions would rather be Ukrainian or Russian?