During a recent training session in Pacific waters, Navy-trained dolphins were able to root out a rare, 19th-century torpedo that was buried in the ocean sand.
The Howell Torpedo is 130 years old and was one of the Navy's first self-propelled torpedoes, KPBS reported. Dolphins discovered the object during a mine-hunting exercise conducted by the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific off Coronado.
The trained dolphins act much as drug-sniffing dogs do: They alert their handlers, or trainers, with various signals.
"When there's an object of interest discovered, the dolphin comes over and touches the side of the boat in a manner that indicates a positive contact or a negative contact," said Chris Harris, operations supervisor for the Navy's Marine Mammal Program, in the KPBS report. "In this case, the dolphins came over and indicated to the handlers on the boat, 'We found something, this is interesting, you're gonna want to check this out.'"
Officials the gave the sign to the dolphins: Lead the way. The torpedo was actually located outside the dolphins' training area, naval officials said.
"Their superb biological sonar allows them to find objects that can't be found by any other means," Mr. Harris said, as KPBS reported.
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