FLC News

Lab Spotlight: SPAWAR - Marine Mammal Program

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The Biosciences Division at SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific is home to the development, training, veterinary care, and research facility that supports the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program, which is dedicated to studying and training marine mammals.

Dolphins’ capacity for echolocation makes them uniquely effective at locating underwater objects so they can be avoided or removed, and they (along with other marine mammals like the California sea lion) are able to mark and retrieve objects for the Navy in the ocean. Some of the objects the animals find, such as nonexplosive Navy training mines, are expensive to replace. Others could present a danger to Navy personnel and vessels. During training and the actual hunting of mines, a dolphin waits to receive a cue from its handler before it begins to search a specific area. Once the dolphin completes its search, it reports back to its handler, giving one response if a target object is detected, and a different response if no target object is detected.

If you haven’t already, you should read the captions on this month’s page in the FLC Planner to learn more about the important piece of naval history that these dolphins recently recovered!

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