Soon, dolphins and sea lions won't be hunting mines any more. The U.S. Navy is phasing out the Marine Mammal Program. Though trained sea mammals have been serving the Navy for 50 years, they're retiring to make way for cheaper, easier-to-manage robots.
Dolphins use sonar-like echolocation--essentially, seeing with their ears--which makes them beasts at finding mines in water. After training the animals, they also have to be taken care of for the rest of their lives, which is costly. So let's feel free to let technology take over here. Development of the Knifefish, a torpedo-like unmanned underwater vehicle, is underway and should be completed by 2017.
is it just me, or does that dolpin have robot arms?
This is a great idea. No longer will poor, helpless dolphins risk getting blown up. And we don't have to feed and care for them anymore either. Machines are easier to maintenance: they don't complain, they don't "die" of starvation (you can still refuel them even if they are completed depleted, and they'll function like nothing ever happened), they don't suffer from emotional trauma, and best of all, people won't complain if a few robots get blown up (when dolphins blow up however, the animal rights people scream for lawsuits).
Your point is well-spoken, and your argument in support of using robots over dolphins is very convincing. I think what you've failed to miss, however, is that the Navy appears to have already gone beyond humble robots. They have managed to graft robot arms onto living dolphins. We can only expect that sharks with laser beam eyes will be next.
Well better technology is great; I still believe the NAVY will continue using dolphins and seals. What they do, is so excellent and they do it very well.
Another example of how this administration is KILLING JOBS. Now how are these brave members of our arm forces going to feed their families.
JK, couldn't resist.
This is awesome. I'm glad technology is making the world and it's creatures safer from man's desructive power. I hope one day there will not be a need for the mines in the first place.
Considering most naval mines nowadays use magnetic fuses rather than old fashioned push pins, I'd be more worried about the robots than the dolphins.