Monday, December 3, 2012
The San Diego-based Navy Marine Mammal Program is making news. The program's dolphins - trained to detect mines and other underwater explosives - are going to be replaced by machines who do the same job, but don't need seven years to be trained.
Beginning in 2017, robots will replace the mine-hunting duties of 24 of the 80 dolphins in the Navy Marine Mammal Program.
Mike Rothe, who heads up the biosciences division at the Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific in San Diego, told the North County Times:
“We are certain that there’s going to be fewer mine-hunting dolphins... About a quarter of (the Navy dolphins) would be affected. But it’s not like they are going to go jobless. We have other assignments."
And what are those assignments? According to North County Times, the dolphins are still superior to robots at picking up objects from the ocean floor, and providing port security. Dolphins phased out of the mine detecting will be reassigned to those duties.