Skip to comments.The FReeper Foxhole Profiles Seals(and Dolphins) at War (1959-2003) - Mar. 31st, 2003
Posted on 03/31/2003 5:35:15 AM PST by SAMWolf
are acknowledged, affirmed and commemorated.
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The U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program began in 1959 at Marineland of the Pacific with a Navy scientist and a Pacific white-sided dolphin named Notty. The Navy was interested in the hydrodynamics of the dolphin. By understanding how dolphins move in the water, perhaps they could improve torpedo, ship, and submarine designs. Soon the Navy realized that there were lots of other good reasons to study dolphins. Like the Navy, dolphins use sonar. Dolphins are also capable of making repeated deep dives without experiencing "the bends" or decompression sickness as do human divers. This capability would make dolphins valuable assistants to Navy divers working in the open ocean. In 1962, a marine mammal facility was established at Point Mugu near Los Angeles. In 1965, in a program called SeaLab II, a dolphin worked in the open ocean off La Jolla, bringing tools and equipment from the sea surface to divers working 200 feet below. One of the great successes of SeaLab was the realization that marine mammals could do useful work untethered in the open sea. As Navy people worked with dolphins, they became fascinated with the adaptations these animals had to their aquatic environment. Soon, other studies including acoustics, diving physiology, anatomy, and medicine were underway. In fact, much pioneering work in the fields of dolphin hydrodynamics, acoustics and diving was conducted by Navy scientists.
The marine mammal program began with funding through the Independent Research Programs of the laboratories at China Lake and Point Mugu, supported by the Office of Naval Research. After the SeaLab II work in 1965 and successful missile recoveries off Point Mugu in 1966, an advanced development program was initiated. For a little over 20 years, the major components of the Navy marine mammal program fell under a funding umbrella known as the Advanced Marine Biological Systems program (AMBS). This advanced development objective funded marine mammal system (MMS) development, tests and evaluation, and systems design and development. While maintaining the care, health, and management of the animals; and research that supported marine mammals in the Navy; AMBS resulted in the successful development of the current MMS that are operational in the fleet today. Supported by active fleet systems, research continues to further understand the capabilities of the animals. This knowledge will be used to enhance current systems and to develop new system capabilities.
From the capabilities demonstrated in the Advanced Marine Biological Systems program, four operational Fleet Marine Mammal Systems (MMS) have been developed to fulfill Navy requirements where hardware is inadequate or safety is an issue. Dolphins are used in MMS because of their exceptional biological sonar that is unmatched by hardware sonars in detecting objects in the water column and on the ocean bottom. Sea lions are used because of their very sensitive underwater directional hearing and low light level vision. Both of these marine mammal species are trainable for tasks and are capable of repetitive deep diving. Fleet MMS are assigned to Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Units (EODMU). Each system has from 4 to 8 marine mammals, an Officer-in-Charge, and several enlisted personnel. All MMS are rapidly transported by aircraft, helicopter and land vehicles with all equipment to sustain an operational deployment. These systems regularly participate in major Fleet exercises. The Mk 6 & 7 MMS were used to support waterside security at the 1996 Republican Convention in San Diego, CA. SPAWAR supports these Fleet systems with replenishment marine mammals, hardware, training, personnel and documentation.
"System" is the term used for the various marine mammal programs developed for use by the Fleet. They include:
Mk 4 is a dolphin mine searching system that detects and marks locations of mines moored off the ocean bottom. It is capable of shipboard forward deployment to support post-amphibious operations. (EODMU THREE, Coronado, CA)
Mk 5 is a sea lion exercise mine recovery system that locates pingered training mines. The sea lions can locate these mines to depths of 1000 feet and attach a grabber device for recovery. (EODMU THREE, Coronado, CA and EODMU SIX, Charleston, SC)
Mk 6 is a dolphin swimmer and diver detection system that can detect and mark the location of an intruder. This system was used in Vietnam in 1970-71 and the Persian Gulf in 1987-88. (EODMU THREE, Coronado, CA) Mk 7 is a dolphin mine searching system that detects and marks the location of mines on the ocean bottom. This system is also capable of shipboard forward deployment to support post-amphibious assaults. (EODMU THREE, Coronado, CA)
Some animals work for years in systems and then "retire" from systems work and go on to become star research animals. Much of the pioneering research in the fields of dolphin hydrodynamics, diving, and sound capabilities was conducted by the Navy. In the late 1950s, the Navy developed an interest in many facets of dolphin physiology and underwater capability. By the early 1960s, the new Navy marine mammal facility at Point Mugu near Los Angeles was a hub for the study of marine mammals. The program has continued to expand in its present location on Point Loma in San Diego, CA. Over the years, it has included studies on the development of improved techniques for diagnosis and treatment of health problems, investigations on how dolphins produce the sounds they make, and studies on capabilities of marine mammals, organochlorine contamination, nutrition, and hearing ranges of cetaceans. The information gathered benefits all cetaceans from those that are sick and stranded to those cared for at marine mammal facilities. The program also benefits young students, researchers, and veterinarians who get valuable exposure to marine mammal science at the Navy marine mammal facility
Current research addresses ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS and BIOSONAR. The following are just a few of the projects:
ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS: Two recent projects conducted at SPAWAR will help us to understand if and at what levels, sound is harmful to marine mammals.
In DeepHear, researchers tested the hearing of white whales (belugas) at different ocean depths. To do this, they trained the animals to dive to a platform as deep as 1000 feet. They then played different sounds to the whales. The whales whistled when they heard the sounds, showing that their hearing was just as sensitive at depth.
In TTS (temporary threshold shift), researchers are testing the hearing of dolphins, whales, and sea lions to find out what sounds they can listen to without changing their hearing abilities.
BIOSONAR: Research has shown that dolphin biosonar is better than any current hardware system available for finding objects in shallow water. Unfortunately, we do not fully understand dolphin biological sonar and search strategies.
In a project called ALTER, we are exploring dolphin biological sonar to learn more about it. We hope to use this knowledge to develop new technologies that will improve current and future Fleet systems. The program is developing a computational model of the dolphin biosonar system which incorporates the animals hearing system, search strategies, and classification capabilities for underwater targets. We also are measuring the animals hearing system for development of new transducer models which mimic the animals signal production and receiving capabilities.
I wasn't a SEAL, but have the greatest respect and admiration for them. Also didn't get to work with any dolphins but we did have Cryin' Willy to harass and play mind game with...
My first-born child is enlisting. I would appreciate any and all advice.
I KNOW this is the right place to get this type of help, I thank you in advance.
A cook on a vessel with an attitude like Asan Akbar's went overboard one night.
From reliable sources who wish to remain anonymous.
Our fraternity cook was a Navy vet and nothing in the Animal House fazed him.
Bobby, a male bottle-nose Navy
dolphin, poked his head out of the
water as dolphin trainer Chris
Lemons, right, worked with Evinrude,
also a male dolphin, at the Space and
Naval Warfare Systems Center on
Point Loma in San Diego.
With the stern gate down, Navy crewmen
pull in boats on that have returned from a
mine search exercise, the left one carrying
one of the Navy dolphins, on the well deck of
the USS Duluth.
Cinder gets ready to eat a fish
morsel, upper right, from a Navy
marine mammal handler just before
she's put back in her shipboard pool
on the USS Duluth.
Navy dolphin trainer Chris Lemons feeds
Snapper, a female bottle-nose dolphin, at the
Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center
on Point Loma.
Navy dolphin trainers work around
the dolphin pens at the Space and
Naval Warfare Systems Center on
Point Loma in San Diego.
Navy marine mammal handler Marshall
Palmer prepared Hapa, a 19-year-old male
bottle-nose dolphin, for a short trip to a mine
search exercise on the USS Duluth.
Senior Navy dolphin trainer Joy
Rothe holds the tail of Bo, a female
bottle-nose dolphin, at the Space and
Naval Warfare Systems Center.