Military-trained dolphin killing machines are not on the loose

But international militaries do have a history of training the beasts of land and sea for combat

Topics: dolphins, Animals, Military, warfare, ,

Everyone relax, a Tuesday report that three combat-trained dolphins from the Ukrainian army escaped has turned out to be a hoax. You are free to safely restart your regimen of power laps in the Black Sea.

The story took off after Russian news outlet RIA Novosti quoted an unconfirmed report on the alleged military program, which, admittedly, sounds terrifying. “The killer-dolphins will be trained to attack enemy combat swimmers using special knives or pistols fixed to their heads,” according to the unnamed source. “We are now planning training exercises for counter-combat swimmer tasks in order to defend ships in port and on raids.”

But a Wednesday report revealed the unnamed “expert” was actually a disgruntled museum employee, and that all of the Ukraine’s military dolphins (yes, they apparently have those if you believe reports like this) are safe and accounted for, knife-faces and all.

Homicidal marine mammals might not currently be on the loose, but international militaries do have a history of training the beasts of land and sea for combat.

The American military currently uses dogs to sniff out improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan, and, as Alexander Abad-Santos reported for the Atlantic, the Navy trained toothed whales to identify sea mines during the Iraq invasion. Retired Adm. Tim Keating all but confirmed the program in an interview with NPR’s Tom Bowman last year:

You Might Also Like

KEATING: They are astounding in their ability to detect underwater objects.

BOWMAN: Dolphins were sent to the Persian Gulf as part of the American invasion force in Iraq.

KEATING: I’d rather not talk about whether we used them or not. They were present in theater.

BOWMAN: But you can’t say whether you used them or not.

KEATING: I’d rather not.

A particularly gruesome use of animals as weaponry? The “exploding rats” employed by the British Special Operations Executive during the Second World War. The covert program distributed explosives-laden rat carcasses around German boiler rooms, where once burned, caused large, destructive explosions.

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 8
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Sonic's Bacon Double Cheddar Croissant Dog

    Sonic calls this a "gourmet twist" on a classic. I am not so, so fancy, but I know that sprinkling bacon and cheddar cheese onto a tube of pork is not gourmet, even if you have made a bun out of something that is theoretically French.

    Krispy Kreme

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Krispy Kreme's Doughnut Dog

    This stupid thing is a hotdog in a glazed doughnut bun, topped with bacon and raspberry jelly. It is only available at Delaware's Frawley Stadium, thank god.


    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    KFC's Double Down Dog

    This creation is notable for its fried chicken bun and ability to hastily kill your dreams.

    Pizza Hut

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Pizza Hut's Hot Dog Bites Pizza

    Pizza Hut basically just glued pigs-in-blankets to the crust of its normal pizza. This actually sounds good, and I blame America for brainwashing me into feeling that.

    Carl's Jr.

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Carl's Jr. Most American Thick Burger

    This is a burger stuffed with potato chips and hot dogs. Choose a meat, America! How hard is it to just choose a meat?!

    Tokyo Dog

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Tokyo Dog's Juuni Ban

    A food truck in Seattle called Tokyo Dog created this thing, which is notable for its distinction as the Guinness Book of World Records' most expensive hot dog at $169. It is a smoked cheese bratwurst, covered in butter Teriyaki grilled onions, Maitake mushrooms, Wagyu beef, foie gras, black truffles, caviar and Japanese mayo in a brioche bun. Just calm down, Tokyo Dog. Calm down.


    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Limp Bizkit's "Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water"

    This album art should be illegal.

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>