Officials at a Ukranian navel base rumored to contain a secretive military training program for dolphins are searching for three of the sea creatures which have escaped from their base on the Black Sea.
On Tuesday, Russian state media agency RIA Novosti reported that the dolphins may have broken through their protective barriers because it is mating season and they are on the search for suitable companions.
An unidentified source from the Soviet Navy said that it is not uncommon for male dolphins held in captivity to struggle to gain freedom if they sense an approaching female dolphin in the water but that they usually return to safety within 7 days.
“If a male dolphin saw a female dolphin during the mating season, then he would immediately set off after her. But they came back in a week or so,” Yury Plyachenko told RIA Novosti.
The escaped trio of dolphins is allegedly being trained by the military to attack swimmers and to aid in the detection of mines in the water.
According to RIA:
Dolphins were trained at Sevastopol for the Soviet Navy as far back as 1973. They were trained to find military equipment such as mines on the seabed, as well as attacking divers and even carrying explosives on their heads to plant on enemy ships.
After the breakup of the USSR and the division of the Black Sea Fleet into Ukrainian and Russian fleets, the dolphin training section and its specialists were handed over to the Ukrainian navy. They were then used for civilian tasks such as working with disabled children, in order to keep the unit intact.
The training camp where the dolphins broke free was originally supervised by Soviet military forces, who turned it over to Ukranian military officials in the 1980s.