Russia ‘trains combat dolphins’ in Crimean peninsula


British army spies claimed on Friday that Russia appeared to be training battle dolphins in the annexed Crimean peninsula to fight Ukrainian forces.

In its latest update on the conflict, British Defense Intelligence said the Russian Navy had invested heavily in security at the Black Sea Fleet’s main base at Sevastopol since last year.

“This includes at least four layers of nets and trapdoors to the harbor entrance. In recent weeks, the defense mechanisms have probably also been intensified by significantly more trained marine animals.

“Images show an almost doubling of floating marine mammal camps in the harbour, which are most likely harboring bottlenose dolphins.”

The dolphins are probably supposed to fight “hostile divers”.

The Russian navy has already used white dolphins and seals for several missions in the Arctic waters, the information says.

A whale with a harness made its appearance in Norway in 2019 and gave rise to speculation that it was used for observation. The whale made its appearance on the Swedish coast again last month.

Norwegians gave it the nickname “Hvaldimir”, a pun on the word “whale” in Norwegian (hval) and a reference to the alleged link with Russia.

Hvaldimir’s harness had a space for placing an action camera and the words “Equipment St. Petersburg” is printed on the plastic handles.

In 2016, Russia’s Defense Department sought to buy five dolphins as part of efforts to continue its Soviet-era use of the highly intelligent marine animals for military tasks.

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union and the USA used dolphins, among other things, to sniff out submarines and mines, as well as suspicious objects or people near ports and ships.

A retired Soviet colonel told AFP that at that stage Moscow even trained dolphins to plant explosive devices on enemy ships.

They knew how to locate abandoned torpedoes and shipwrecks in the Black Sea, says Viktor Baranets, who was an eyewitness of dolphin training in the Soviet era and the times after.

The US Navy used sea lions in Bahrain in 2003 as part of Operation Enduring Freedom after the 9/11 attacks.