For nearly two months, the world held its breath as tensions mounted in the former USSR. Vladimir Putin pretended it was his true and divine mission to save ethnic Russians living in Crimea from bloodthirsty Ukrainians.
Not the case in the least. Putin was dead set on snagging a platoon of dolphin commandoes.
Conventional wisdom considers these dolphins to be conscientious objectors, engaging only in underwater spycraft, like carrying 007-style gadgets, and detecting mines.
These dolphins are part of a reinvigorated Soviet program to train sea mammals to allegedly blow up ships, attack saboteurs with head-mounted guns and knives, while securing harbors for the greater glory of Mother Russia! Rumors persist of dolphins learning how to remove an enemy diver’s mask and fins, nudging the enemy to the surface for capture, or beating them with their powerful tails. Crazier still, the Russians, and the Americans, are alleged to have taught the dolphins how to use poison darts against enemies.1
Speculation aside, dolphins can be important operators. They can perform multiple deep dives without suffering decompression sickness. Unlike their human counterparts, they don’t need sleep. Instead, dolphins shut down one of their brain hemispheres while the other remains conscious.
On the obverse, dolphins are sensitive creatures with a lifespan of 50 years in the wild but only a mere handful in captivity. For example, the dolphin who portrayed Flipper committed suicide. Being conscious breathers, the dolphin let herself sink to the bottom of a pool and not come up for air.2 Would you expect a creature such as these to be ruthless warriors?
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