Armed Dolphins Freed By Katrina?

In a story that brings the real world way too close to safely science-fictional events, armed dolphins may be loose in the Gulf of Mexico, freed by hurricane Katrina. This story may be so close to fiction that it actually is fiction, but read on.

Experts who have studied the US navy's cetacean training exercises fear that as many as 36 escaped mammals could be carrying 'toxic dart' guns. Dolphins, considered one of the species with intelligence second only to man's, now threaten divers and surfers. The US navy admits it has been training dolphins for military purposes, but has refused to confirm that any are missing.

Accident investigator Leo Sheridan, 72, said he had received intelligence from sources close to the US government's marine fisheries service confirming dolphins had escaped.

'My concern is that they have learnt to shoot at divers in wetsuits who have simulated terrorists in exercises. If divers or windsurfers are mistaken for a spy or suicide bomber and if equipped with special harnesses carrying toxic darts, they could fire,' he said.

The navy started the Cetacean Intelligence Mission in 1989, outfitting dolphins with harness and electrodes, and teaching them to protect Trident subs in harbour. Dolphins have been used to detect mines near an Iraqi port. It's not like the government hasn't been working on using dolphins as weapons.

Science fiction writers have long written about dolphins and the role that they may play in the future. David Brin wrote about dolphins working closely with people in Sundiver, Douglas Adams wrote more fancifully in his Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books. One of my personal favorites is a short story by Roger Zelazny called 'Kjwalll'kje'k'koothailll'kje'k, in which he introduces the idea of a sonic curtain that could be manipulated by dolphins to keep sharks out of an underwater park.

Read more at the tabloid-style source of this story - Armed and Dangerous - Flipper the firing dolphin let loose by Katrina.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/26/2005)

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