When Russia took the Crimean peninsula, it also gained control of what had been Ukraine’s Sevastopol-based “combat dolphins,” state-owned news agency RIA Novosti reported. The sea mammals have been trained to do a variety of tasks, including “underwater patrolling with detection devices” and “defending against mines and enemy divers,” according to ABC News. (The world’s only other known fleet of militarized dolphins belongs to the United States.) It has been reported that the Ukrainians also hoped to outfit the creatures’ heads with knives, pistols, and carbon-monoxide-filled weapons that would allow them to take out enemy divers.
However, according to a military employee who spoke to RIA Novosti, the program was due to be shut down in April because “the Ukrainian Navy lacked the funds for such know-how.” Apparently, there is now renewed hope for its continuation: “The oceanarium’s engineers are developing new instruments for new applications to boost the operational efficiency of the dolphins underwater,” said the employee. “Our experts have developed new devices, which convert the detection of objects by the dolphins’ underwater sonar to a signal on an operator’s monitor.” It’s impossible to say whether the dolphins, who very well could have been looking forward to retirement, are happy with the change in leadership.