Mine-Hunting Dolphins Are Losing Their Jobs to Robots

The US Navy is planning to free these marine mammals from their service

By Laura Sinpetru on December 3rd, 2012 09:05 GMT

The news just broke that, thanks to scientific and technological developments, the dolphins and the sea lions presently employed by the US Navy are soon to enter an early and forced retirement.

For those unaware, the dolphins and the sea lions working with said military forces are trained to detect underwater mines and warn humans about the dangers in their proximity.

The reasons for which the US Navy has been relying on these animals for locating underwater mines ever since the 1960's are fairly simple to comprehend.

Dolphins are the proud owners of an all-natural and highly precise sonar system, whereas sea lions are also quite gifted when it comes to locating various things below the sea's surface.

However, a new torpedo-shaped robot that can supposedly perform all of these tasks without the US Navy having to spend considerable amounts of money on training it and looking after it is now to replace these animals.

Not to mention the fact that it takes considerably less time to build a robot than it does to train a dolphin.

According to SmartPlanet, some of these marine mammals will get to keep their jobs, simply because no human-made robot can yet match their skills.

As specialist James Fallin explains, “Because of the unique capabilities of the marine mammals in the shallow water environment, there are several critical missions that they perform that cannot be matched by technology or hardware in the near-term.”

Therefore, “While the Navy is working on developing replacement technologies, there is no definitive pathway charged for a full replacement of the operational use of marine mammals.”

Although it is true that the development of this new technology will translate into dolphins and sea lions no longer being taken out of their natural habitats and made to serve humans, the fact remains that the marine mammals that are now given the sack will still have to be properly looked after, either at an aquarium or at an animal sanctuary.
The US Navy readies to retire its mine-hunting dolphins and sea lions
   The US Navy readies to retire its mine-hunting dolphins and sea lions
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