Russia has placed trained dolphins at the entrance to a key Black Sea port to help protect a Kremlin naval base there, suggest satellite photos analyzed by a naval analyst.
Around the time of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, two pens of dolphins were placed at the entrance to Sevastopol harbor, the most significant naval base in the Black Sea, according to the imagery.
The dolphins could be trained to perform tasks such as preventing divers from infiltrating a military base undetected. Both the U.S. and Russian military have trained marine mammals to complete such tasks.
“This could prevent Ukrainian special operations forces from infiltrating the harbor underwater to sabotage warships,” H I Sutton, a submarine analyst wrote in an article published by the U.S. Naval Institute on Wednesday.
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“Russia’s apparent installation of two pens filled with dolphins at a Crimean harbor puts these sensitive and loving animals in grave danger and fails to effectively deter would be saboteurs of its warships,” Shalin Gala Vice President of International Laboratory Methods of PETA told USATODAY.
The satellite photos reveal plenty of valuable Russian Navy ships that could be vulnerable to undersea sabotage.
Dolphins are not the only mammal the Russian Navy trains as protectors. Russia’s Northern Fleet uses Beluga whales and seals, according to Sutton.