29.1 C
Sunday, October 1, 2023

Russia ramps up combat dolphin patrols off Crimea British spies claim

The number of pens said to house trained marine mammals has nearly doubled in Sevastopol, British military intelligence has alleged

The British Ministry of Defence has released a new intelligence update on the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. The assessment unveiled on Friday focuses on Moscow’s efforts to secure the main base of its Black Sea Fleet, Sevastopol, and claims a sharp increase in maritime patrols by war-trained dolphins.

Satellite imagery of the Sevastopol harbor, shared by the UK military, shows several rectangular objects floating by its mouth. British military intelligence claims the objects are “mammal pens” housing combat-trained bottle-nosed dolphins.

“Imagery shows a near doubling of floating mammal pens in the harbor which highly likely contain bottle-nosed dolphins,” the assessment reads.


Moscow has been training marine animals, including “Beluga whales and seals” for an unspecified “range of missions,” the document asserted, adding that the purported dolphins “are highly likely intended to counter enemy divers.”

However, little to no official information on the purported use of dolphins by the Russian military exists. During the Soviet era, Crimea housed a military facility used to train dolphins, but it ended up in Ukraine’s possession after the collapse of the USSR and ultimately fell into disrepair. The remnants of the facility were reportedly transferred to the Russian military after the 2014 reunification of Crimea, while a few years later the country’s Defense Ministry ran a tender to procure a handful of young dolphins.

Read more

File photo: A white whale dubbed Hvaldimir likes to approach boats
Norway warns against approaching ‘spy’ whale

The use of marine animals for combat purposes by Russia has been a relatively popular theory for quite some time, with allegations repeatedly surfacing from Western officials and media. One of the most prominent incidents involving suspicious marine mammals occurred back in April 2019, when an unusually friendly white beluga whale was spotted off Norway.


The mammal, dubbed ‘Hvaldimir’ sported a head camera harness labeled ‘Equipment St. Petersburg,’ prompting speculations that it was a “Russian spy whale.” Other reports, however, suggested that the beluga actually hailed from a marine sanctuary training whales to play with children for therapy purposes. Since then, Hvaldimir has been repeatedly spotted off Norway, having apparently settled down in a fjord near Oslo.

June 23, 2023 at 11:13PM

Related Stories

Most Popular Articles