back to article Behold! The first line of defence for 25% of the US nuclear stockpile: Dolphins

Remember how in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 you could produce anti-ship dolphin units with some sort of sonic cannon strapped to their backs? How we laughed. But more than a decade later, Register headlines like "US Navy dolphins, sea lions hunt rogue robo-subs" and "Dolphins inspire ultrasonic attacks that pwn smartphones …

  1. Little Mouse Silver badge

    It makes sense to use Dolphins as the last line of defence.

    We'll know we're in trouble if they attempt to do a double-backwards-somersault through a hoop whilst whistling the 'Star Spangled Banner'.

    1. Korev Silver badge

      Re: It makes sense to use Dolphins as the last line of defence.

      They're amazing creatures, they love have fin a laugh...

    2. msknight

      Re: It makes sense to use Dolphins as the last line of defence.

      That's sorted then... just never give them any hoops.

    3. richardcox13

      Re: It makes sense to use Dolphins as the last line of defence.

      It appears, at this point in time, you are missing 36 additional upvotes.

    4. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker Silver badge

      Re: It makes sense to use Dolphins as the last line of defence.

      That's two articles this week where my mind ended up on HHGTTG.

      (Plus my kids talked about bad poetry last night, so I mentioned Vogons but spared reading any to them.)

      In the same week that my age becomes The Answer -- on Thursday, no less.

      Nope, I'm not getting the hang of this. I going to hide under my towel.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: It makes sense to use Dolphins as the last line of defence.

        You might have to suck on the corner soaked in anti-depressants.

  2. Korev Silver badge

    That story's fascinating, you Orca read it...

  3. Korev Silver badge

    Uncle Sam has 9,962 nuclear warheads at his disposal if he wished to make life on Earth considerably worse than it already is.

    On the upside it'd end the Corona Pandemic...

    1. Michael

      maybe not

      Has anyone checked if cockroaches can get covid?

  4. Filippo Silver badge

    "If a mine or other weapon is detected" ... "dolphins will swim up to the infiltrator"

    If any of that had happened even once, excluding training or demonstrations, I would be extremely surprised.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge

      > If any of that had happened even once, excluding training or demonstrations

      Come on, that's a totally theoretical situation. What would that lonely diver be trying to do anyway? Steal a warhead? As for any mines, they are best caught when placed (AFAIK they tend to be bulky and heavy, and need secure anchoring to prevent currents from moving them out of the way).

      I guess the real dangers in such a setting would be theft of one (or more) of those heavy, heavy warheads (or parts thereof), or simply someone detonating them for fun and lolz. In both cases I don't think buoy-carrying dolphins would be very useful. I think it's more of a dazzle & distract operation ("Watch out for those dolphins!").

  5. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    A friend of mine used to work for DERA, and I used to joke he trained exploding suicide dolphins. I might not have been far off the mark it seems.

  6. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

    Freedom Fish

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'll have fries with mine.

  7. Chris G Silver badge

    I wonder what it would take to bribe a guard dolphin or make it defect?

    Barrels of caviar?

    1. Korev Silver badge

      A fishing email...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Their just sucking up to us until we arm them with lasers. Of course then we will also have to arm the sharks to prevent a fishy genocide.

  8. Andy The Hat Silver badge


    "Bump" for the uninitiated may be a bit more that a nudge in the ribs. Dolphins have been know to ram sharks hard enough to kill them so it could be more like "bump, as in smacked with a very heavy baseball bat".

  9. Dr_N Silver badge

    I bet working for the military...

    ... gives them a real sense of porpoise.

  10. ShadowSystems Silver badge

    What makes you think

    that the aquatic buggers haven't already moved us all to another reality multiple times trying to save us, but every time they finish the universe promptly experiences a Divide By Cheese Error, reboots, & replaces itself with something weirder?

    I've grown gills, am clinging to the back of one, & hoping it'll take me with it when it leaves for good... =-J

  11. Fr. Ted Crilly Bronze badge

    umm and the

    Frikkin' Lasers?

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: umm and the

      Or you could find a psychic dolphin and name it Darwin.

      1. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker Silver badge

        Re: umm and the

        Have an upvote and this ---> for the SeaQuest reference.

        That show gave me my first real taste of "light temperature matters" -- yes, yes it does. I've hobby-studied a lot of color theory since then, and how different sources (CRT TV, SRGB, different lamp technologies) have different "white" references and all that jazz.

        However, despite "science" saying to reduce blue light at night to aid sleep (I don't need the help), yellowing my phone's screen makes me nauseated. I'll take "comfortable" and "productive" color temps over whatever they claim is good for me.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: umm and the

          I have a long association (a whole career in fact) with the vertebrate visual system, particularly colour.

          It didn't start with SeaQuest for me, though. What got me hooked was one particular colour... that of money (my boss as he ended up being was paying about 50% more than others in the field - I later learned why - you needed a particularly strong mental constitution to deal with his BS. He allegedly had the highest staff turnover in the whole institution. I am quite fond of him even so... an utter genius, insightful, funny, intellectual to the nth degree. It's the temper that did it for most people... why are so many geniuses so, so angry? I hear Hawking was a superlative asshole.)

          1. Gene Cash Silver badge

            Re: umm and the

            I wonder if there's only so many times you go "I TRY to explain to the idiots..." before permanent grumpification.

            Also, if I was stuck in a wheelchair, with only a shitty voice synthesizer to communicate with, and unable to move, I'd probably not be a nice guy either.

            Plus a couple quotes from Dr. William F. House, who was a hell of a doctor: (

            "It bothers me, you know, when you think you have something that works and no one will listen to you."

            "Everything I did in my life that was worthwhile, I caught hell for."

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: umm and the


            Semi-serious answer to your question.

            "why are so many geniuses so, so angry?"

            The anger comes from everyone else being 'Too Slow' in the thinking dept !!! :)

            It can be very frustrating when you have already worked out the answer before the question has been finished or the answer is 'Blindingly obvious' to the geniuses mind and they cannot see why you cannot see it when they can !!!


            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: umm and the

              "why are so many geniuses so, so angry?"

              Coworkers who are clearly intelligent but play dumb if they think there is some advantage to it? They piss me off and I am FAR from genius.

          3. Philip Stott

            Re: umm and the

            I am, technically, a genius (IQ 146).

            Unfortunately, I believe there must be some inverse square relationship between IQ and common sense, due to my making so many (in hindsight) dumb mistakes.

            Perhaps that's why we're all grumpy :-p.

        2. ShadowSystems Silver badge

          At Stryker, re: colours.

          The colour that is best for you is obviously neon, irridescent, hypnotic, stroboscopic, InfraPlaid.

          Please stare at this dot >< until you hear TheVoices giving you instructions.

          Happy birthday, and try to make sure you get the corner of the towel soaked in anti depressants, not the one soaked in UltraLax. (I hear that one tastes like shite!)


  12. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    Dolphins Buggering Off Home

    I seem to recall that during the first Iraq war in 91 the US Navy released some dolphins to help clear an Iraqi minefield. The dolphins took one look at the odds, and promptly buggered off home. Or at least that was the official story. Perhaps the Iraqis had access to some particularly tasty tuna?

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Dolphins Buggering Off Home

      I don't see why I should buy only dolphin-friendly tuna. I've never heard of a tuna-friendly dolphin.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  13. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    2,500 doses of deterrent sitting in Puget Sound

    And when the Cascadia subduction zone lets rip that part of North America is in for one hell of an earthquake and a tsunami, the usual comment being "everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast". Possibly very crispy glow-in-the-dark toast. I don't think dolphins will be much use in that situation.

    1. dafe

      Re: 2,500 doses of deterrent sitting in Puget Sound

      Nuclear bombs are not nitroglycerin. An earthquake will bury them, not trigger them.

      So, fingers crossed that the nuclear disarmament will proceed ahead of schedule.

  14. TRT Silver badge

    Attach a buoy to a diver...

    OK, so how? Do they ram a toothed barb springy hook thing into them? Is it a compressed gas cylinder that blows a tethered balloon out the end and puts it out of popping reach?

    This all sounds very interesting.

    1. ShadowSystems Silver badge

      Re: Attach a buoy to a diver...

      This is merely anecdotal & comes from a relative whom works as a commercial fisherman in a Northern California fishing town. (Fort Brag, California; Noyo Harbour.)

      The dolphins he's seen doing such ident/recovery work were armed (mouthed) with a device that looks like a mini bear trap with an extra large target-trigger-plate at the center. The dolphin holds it in it's mouth with the trap-jaws pointing forward, so when the dolphin identifies either a diver to be outed or a mine to be marked, the dolphin nose-bumps the person/device hard enough to trigger the trap, the jaws snap closed, & the dolphin snags a ring on the side as it swims away. The ring is connected to a line, the line to the pull-stop on a canister of compressed gas, the trigger springs open, the gas rushes out to fill a balloon/bouy, and it rockets to the surface to indicate the person/item to be dealt with.

      The dolphin then swims back to it's handler, gets a treat for doing a good job, grabs another trap-thingy, & goes back out for more hunting.

      My relative said one of the dolphins decided his fishing net float must have been a mine, marked it, & swam away. Relative recovered the balloon & trap, both plainly marked as U.S. Military property, and contacted the number to report the incident.

      He got questioned, a thanks, & a warning not to fish so close to an exclusion zone. He pointed out that he was fishing in the same section of ocean he'd been fishing for decades, that he'd never been told of any such zone, & asked why their dolphin decided to mark a *commercial fishing float* as a supposed mine.

      "They refused to say, saluted, & left. Fekkin' Marines. Bah!"

      I never knew if said relative was telling the truth or just pulling my leg, but the bear-trap-held-outward-in-the-mouth design made sense so I'm inclined to believe the old salty bastard. =-J

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Attach a buoy to a diver...

        "bear-trap"... makes me smile given the context. Misha / Mishka.

  15. Omnipresent

    You are not getting those waters.

    Lets just say I "know" someone who lives on top of those things. Visitors that come west often watch the drawbridges go up and down and stop traffic and usually have the same question "where's the boat"? The answer is always the same "it's under the water, you just can't see it."

    I was told they like to use boaters and swimmers in the sounds as practice targeting.

    pew, pew....

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Also, how do the dolphins feel about this?"

    Clearly they've found a way to keep close tabs on a big chunk of the nuclear stockpile. Sure, they made us think it was our idea, that was part of the plan.

  17. chivo243 Silver badge

    Day of the Dolphin?

    Fa loves Pa?

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Day of the Dolphin?

      Mum walked into the sitting room when that was on TV sometime in the early 80s to find my brother and I bawling our eyes out at the end of that film. It's the only film I can remember crying at as a kid, even though I remember none of the plot. Who cares about ET going home, or Bambi's mother getting shot. I must have been about 8.

      Not seen it since, which I suspect is the correct choice.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Day of the Dolphin?

        Try also "Who Will Love My Children" (1983).

  18. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    I wonder if it works

    as well as the russians and the dogs they trained to run beneath tanks with explosives in order to blow them up.

    note: the russians used their own tanks to train the dogs so when they were let loose to destroy the german panzers........

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: I wonder if it works

      Ah well that's how the story goes but the real flaw in the plan was they used German Shepherds.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I wonder if it works

        "but the real flaw in the plan was they used German Shepherds"

        If they were in Germany, wouldn't you just call them "Shepherds"?

        1. LogicGate

          Re: I wonder if it works

          Nope, you'd call them "Schäferhunde".

          Just like the french will not order "fries".

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: I wonder if it works

      Wasn't it something about the smell of the fuel? Their own tanks that they trained with used petrol while the German tanks used diesel, or vice versa?

  19. the Jim bloke Silver badge

    Surprised no mention of William Gibson

    "Johnny Mnemonic" short story, where the dolphin is a heroin addicted military surplus..

    Quick google, and apparently it has become a SYFY channel tv series... not going to follow that up after the disappointment that was "the Expanse".

  20. Christoph

    Let's hand the dolphins control of our nuclear weapons. What could possibly go wrong?

    1. observer144

      So long and thanks for all the fission!

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      It would be a bit unfair on the sharks. Unless we arm them with lasers I suppose...

    3. TRT Silver badge

      It's always worried me slightly that Monkey World, Bovington Tank Museum and Winfrith Magnox are all in a straight line and in relatively close proximity.

  21. This post has been deleted by its author

  22. Norman Nescio Silver badge

    If the dolphins knew they were sitting on god-knows-how-many-megatons of Mutually Assured Destruction, they'd be long gone.

    They are long gone. The ones that remain are a combination of the terminally insane, thrill seekers, and the ones paid danger money to keep a watch on us.

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