Category Archives: Whale Sonar

Whale Sonar

When we go on a whale watching trip, while we watch the whales at play, enjoying themselves lolling and rolling on a calm sea, we do not think about how helpful whales, and their friends the dolphins, are to man.

Watching whales either from land or on whale watching cruises, is a relaxing pastime that people the world over take much pleasure in doing. Besides being delightful for us to watch, these gentle giants together with dolphins are also useful to both the navy and the military.

These particular species of the ocean, together with sea lions, are capable of being successfully trained for carrying out various operations in times of war. A marine mammal program started during 1960 studying the sonar capabilities of dolphins and orca whales, with the idea being to make a study of efficient underwater objects. As dolphins swim so fast and dive so deep, their progress underwater served as a guide for improving both lines of submarines and the speed of boats. The animals were also taught to deliver equipment to divers, locate and retrieve various objects, and act as guards for boats and submarines. Furthermore, they were taught to hold a camera in their mouths, which was most useful for surveillance purposes.

When on a whale watching trip, the thought never crosses one’s mind that it is possible to teach these gentle giants to perform special tasks for military purposes, as they appear so placid.

The use of bottleneck dolphins in the Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars was to detect and defend against any enemy swimmers planting explosives. The dolphins, swimming slowly, patrolled the area with sonar attachments and alerted their trainers if they located swimmers. They also tagged the swimmer with a marker so that he would be easy to apprehend. The dolphins’ hearing is so acute that it is possible for it to detect a three-inch ball two hundred metres away in darkness and it is even possible for it to differentiate between different metals.

They have life beyond the military too. Ukrainian dolphins trained by the soviet navy for their military operations, are now successful for use in therapy work with autistic children and children that are emotionally disturbed.

Next time you go on whale watching trips, and dolphins swim alongside the boat, which they often do, look with new respect and admiration for these creatures of the deep, that are capable for so much more than we initially give them credit for doing.Image Source: Continue reading

Posted in Whale Sonar | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off