Dolphins Help The U.S. Navy Prepare for War

(KHNL)  The Navy's most high-tech ships and airplanes are in town for the annual Pacific war games.

But this year, some marine mammals are proving their natural abilities make them a war fighting tool.

"They are very intelligent animals and with small approximate training can communicate what you want them to do," said Sea Life Park dolphin trainer Stephen Burton.

But the Navy has given them a difficult assignment.

"We feel it is appropriate use animals to use them instances protect lives of sailors and marines and the number one critical thing we do is take care of the animals" said Tom Lapuzza of the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in Sand Diego, California.

Sea lions and dophins team up to help the Navy find hidden mines on the ocean floor.

The dolphins dive and mark the miens while the sea lions are sent down to pick them up.

It's a program that started back in 1968 in Kaneohe Bay.

"The Navy's systems for sea lions to recover object and dolphins to dive we all developed here in Hawaii," said Lapuzza.

The sea lions find their targets equipped with noise makers, explains marine mammal training manager Andrew Scullion.

"Usually use beacon send sound pulse latch on whatever needs latched on and come back up," said Scullion.

Soundwaves to find objects in dark and murky water.

And by recycling the dummy mines, they save taxpayers millions.

Not everyone supports using dolphins and sea lions for military missions.

Cathy Gogell at Animal Rights Hawaii says she asked the Navy and the State Department of Agriculture to refuse the Navy's request for a special permit to fly in the mammals.

Their request was denied.