I stop running and stop laughing before staring into the sky. Yes, I run and laugh at the same time. I often wonder what people think of me, am I insane? Or is Karl Pilkington just too funny to contain a hysterical cackle?
It’s a Thursday and I’m listening to The Ricky Gervais Show podcast on my brief afternoon run. If you haven’t heard of it, I pity you but I won’t judge, there is still time. Karl Pilkington is reading an email that a listener had sent in. He mentions dolphins with guns strapped to their flippers. Ricky, as always, dismisses the ridiculous idea by laughing wildly at him. I laugh too – that is ridiculous … or is it? We’ve put people on the moon. Training dolphins to kill seems easier than that. Karl talks a lot of shit but sometimes he shares some insightful tales, and maybe, just maybe, this is one of those times.
I start walking while I violently punch ‘Dolphins with guns’ into Google on my phone. BAM – Wikipedia to the rescue. I click on the first link, ‘Military Dolphins’. I’m half expecting a fan fiction historical recount of the time Snorky convinces all of his friends to take over Springfield. It wasn’t. It was true. Karl was right.
I turn around and run back home with a grin from ear to ear. Now I definitely look like I have lost my mind. I sit down and sweat lubricates my fingertips as I vigorously research as much as I can about Military Dolphins.
Both the USA Military and the Soviet Military have trained and employed dolphins to locate underwater mines, aid rescue missions and assaults. The Soviet Military operated a research facility on the Crimean Peninsula up until the 1990’s before selling the dolphins to Iran in 2000. The Chief dolphin trainer, Boris Zhurid, was a kind man and wanted the dolphins to go to a good home, according to an interview with a Russian Newspaper.
A retired Russian colonel told the Guardian that dolphins were trained to plant explosive devices on enemy ships. They were also fitted with harpoons to stab enemy swimmers and carried out kamikaze attacks with explosives.
However, Training animals to perform in the military isn’t limited to just dolphins. According to the US Navy, over 19 species have been tested for their potential military use and they have confirmed that dolphins along with sea lions have been used since the 1960’s.
But surely those days are over … right?
On the US Navy website, under the Marine Mammal Program, their press release states that they are still using marine animals for Military purposes;
“Unlike human divers, dolphins are capable of making repeated deep dives without experiencing “the bends.” They also found that dolphins and sea lions are highly reliable, adaptable, and trainable marine animals that could be trained to search for, detect, report, and mark the location of objects in the water.”
So there you go, military dolphins are a thing. And maybe I shouldn’t dismiss everything Karl Pilkington says – sometimes he shares wisdom beyond his (sweaty) ears.