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‘Killer’ dolphins escape military unit in Ukraine

A couple “killer” dolphins have reportedly gone missing in Ukraine.

Yes, you read that correctly: killer dolphins.

According to local reports, three of the Ukrainian navy’s trained dolphins abandoned their handlers during training exercises, possibly in an attempt to seek mates.

Ukrainian officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, say only two of the team’s five trained dolphins returned to the Crimean port of Sevastopol. Ukraine’s Defense Ministry denied the reports, refusing to confirm whether the navy utilizes dolphins for military purposes.

The team of dolphins have reportedly been trained to seek mines and attack enemy divers. According to navy officials, the dolphins are trained to use special knives and firearms to kill enemy divers.

While the story seems a bit absurd, dolphins have been trained by a number of navies around the world. Dolphins were trained at Sevastopol for the Soviet Navy as far back as 1973, according to local news sources. At the time, they were trained to unveil military equipment such as mines on the seabed, as well as carrying explosives on their heads to plant on enemy ships.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy announced in 2012 that it could begin training 24 dolphins to hunt mines, replacing by mine-hunting robots within five years. The dolphins are part of the U.S. Navy’s $28 million marine mammal program, which trains and employs 80 bottle-nosed dolphins and 40 California sea lions to detect and clear mines and other dangers from ports.

Animals have played a vital role in military affairs for over a hundred years. Forces around the world have employed various creatures to do their military bidding. Spies used carrier pigeons to deliver secret information in World War II, providing an alternative to wire-based technologies. MI5, the United Kingdom’s counter-intelligence and security agency, considered using a team of trained gerbils to detect terrorists flying into Britain during the 1970s, according to Sir Stephen Lander, the organization’s former director. The Soviet Union, during World War II, relied on anti-tank dogs with explosives harnessed to their backs to fight German tanks.

It remains unclear whether Ukraine military officials expect to retrieve the dolphins. It was unclear whether the dolphins were equipped with tracking devices, making recovery possible.

The story was originally reported by Russian state media agency RIA Novosti.