Skip to main content

Report: Ukraine military dolphins to switch nationalities, join Russian navy

By Faith Karimi, CNN
updated 7:41 AM EDT, Thu March 27, 2014
Dolphins can detect sounds and objects in murky waters that human beings can't.
Dolphins can detect sounds and objects in murky waters that human beings can't.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Russia plans to take custody of Ukraine's combat dolphins, news agency reports
  • Dolphins are a crucial part of open-water security
  • From a military perspective, they're effective at highlighting dangers on the sea floor

(CNN) -- Just when you thought this divorce couldn't get any messier.

Weeks after Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea region, it plans to take custody of dolphins in the nation as well.

Not just any dolphins. These highly trained military mammals detect risks such as sea mines or enemy scuba divers trying to slip through. Sea mines are sophisticated weapons that can sink ships and other watercraft.

"The combat dolphin program in the Crimean city of Sevastopol will be preserved and redirected toward the interests of the Russian navy," state-run Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported Thursday.

Ukraine's right sector leader killed
Obama: Russia stands alone

Dolphins are a crucial part of open-water security. They detect sounds and objects in murky waters that human beings can't, making them uniquely effective at highlighting dangers on the sea floor.

Harnessing the military power of animal intelligence

Ukraine was using outdated military equipment for the dolphin program and planned to disband it next month, RIA Novosti said.

The Ukraine Defense Ministry told CNN that the nation has an ocean dolphin facility, but declined to provide details, saying they're classified.

The dolphin program dates to the 1960s, when Russia and Ukraine were part of the Soviet Union, but was handed over to Kiev after independence.

The U.S. Navy in San Diego also trains dolphins and sea lions to help protect its assets and find dangerous objects underwater.

Tensions between Moscow and Kiev have escalated since Russia reclaimed the Crimea region after a referendum this month that overwhelmingly supported the annexation. The United States and its allies have pledged to isolate Russia for its actions.

Ukraine also has combat sea lions that operate under the same base. It's unclear whether they'll be barking allegiances to Moscow or Kiev.

READ: Funeral for 'Robin Hood' draws Ukraine nationalists -- paramilitary to pensioner

READ: Can Obama save the day?

CNN's Lisa Emmanuel and Victoria Butenko contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:58 AM EDT, Tue September 9, 2014
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 broke apart in the air after it was hit by a burst of "high-energy objects" from outside, a preliminary report by Dutch aviation investigators said Tuesday.
updated 7:34 AM EDT, Tue September 9, 2014
"There were many scenes that defied logic," writes OSCE spokesman Michael Bociurkiw, who was one of the first international observers to arrive at the site.
updated 12:11 PM EDT, Wed September 3, 2014
On a country road in eastern Ukraine, a scene of bucolic tranquility was suddenly interrupted by the aftermath of carnage.
updated 4:19 PM EDT, Tue September 2, 2014
In the city of Donetsk, the devastation wrought by weeks of fighting between pro-Russia rebels and Ukrainian forces is all too apparent.
updated 8:00 PM EDT, Sun August 31, 2014
CNN's Diana Magnay reports from the front lines in the Ukrainian conflict.
updated 7:26 AM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
A few miles south of the town of Starobeshevo in eastern Ukraine, a group of men in uniform is slumped under a tree.
updated 9:27 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
It's been building for months. And now, according to some, Russia has launched a "full-scale invasion" of Ukraine.
updated 9:43 AM EDT, Sat August 23, 2014
A shopkeeper's mutilated body, relatives' anguish, homes destroyed ... this is Donetsk.
updated 7:12 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
A 20-minute drive from Kiev takes you to a neighborhood that feels more like Beverly Hills than central Ukraine.
updated 2:35 PM EDT, Sat September 13, 2014
Photos illustrate the ongoing crisis in Ukraine as fighting continues to flare in the region.
updated 8:34 AM EDT, Thu August 7, 2014
Western leaders stepped up sanctions, but the Russian President shows no sign of backing down.
updated 12:31 PM EDT, Thu July 31, 2014
Future imports, exports between the EU and Russia are now banned -- but existing contracts continue.
updated 11:40 AM EDT, Sun July 20, 2014
Some contend that larger weapons have come into Ukraine from Russia.
updated 4:37 PM EDT, Fri August 1, 2014
Information about Ukraine, the second-largest European country in area after Russia.
Learn more about the victims, ongoing investigation and the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
updated 5:25 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
The downing Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 put the pro-Russia rebels operating in Ukraine's eastern region center stage.
ADVERTISEMENT