Satellite images obtained by the US Naval Institute (USNI) suggest that North Korea may be training dolphins for military purposes.
The new images show animal pens floating between a coal dock and a shipyard with nearby docked warships.
— U.S. Naval Institute (@NavalInstitute) November 12, 2020
Using animals in the military is nothing new, the US Navy was one of the first to pioneer training dolphins and has a program based in San Diego. The Soviet Union also used a base on the Crimean peninsula during the Cold War to train dolphins to search for mines or other objects and to plant explosives.
“Marine mammals can also be used to defend naval bases against saboteurs,” USNI said.
“They can also be trained to detect enemy divers and mark them for investigation and neutralization. Human swimmers cannot compete with dolphins or seals in speed, agility, and the natural ability to ‘see’ in dark or murky water.
“It’s not a contest, but because they cannot identify whether the diver is a friend or foe, they would only be used to mark the target by attaching a buoy. This is also more practical for training purposes. Enemy divers can then be dealt with by grenades or nets with shark hooks.”
Reports from last year also showed that the Russian military may have been training Beluga whales.
USNI said imaging intelligence shows that North Korea’s training program dates back to at least Oct. 2015 where enclosures appeared in the port city of Nampo on the country’s western coast.
The latest images show floating pens that are compatible in size to the pens used by both the US and Russian Navy in their dolphin training. USNI said a base further up the river is likely where the dolphins are being bred.
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