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Dolphins find mine-clearing role

OSLO, Norway -- Dolphins are to be used by the U.S. Navy to help clear 80,000 mines and other ordnance off Norway.

The additions to the U.S. Navy's personnel are to be used in exercise "Blue Game" under NATO auspices off the country's southern coast where torpedoes and grenades lie rusting.

The deployment of the animals to locate mines off Norway is unprecedented, said Rune Hausken, commander of the diving team, although a similar operation has taken place in the Baltic Sea.

The four dolphins are trained to use their natural sonar to find mines on the seabed and then attach a marker buoy.

The munitions off Norway have remained undisturbed since being laid by German forces during World War II.

The operation will take place from April 23 to May 11. Hausken says the exercise will be the biggest ever mine clearing exercise off Norway.

Divers from the U.S., Germany, Britain, Canada, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium and Norway are to take part.

The Norwegian operation follows a two week exercise in the Baltic Sea last year when 83 mines were cleared, Hausken said. Then, U.S. dolphins were used to find Soviet-era mines.

But Per Hole, a Norwegian navy commander and mine warfare office, said: "In the Baltics the seabed is very plain and sandy. Here the fjords are deep and more rocky."

Reuters contributed to this report.

Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society
Dolphin Research Centre

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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