Animal shield

Published: Wednesday 30 April 2003

-- (Credit: US NAVY)The us military has resorted to using dolphins to clear mines in the war against Iraq. The marine mammals are trained not to make contact with the mines but to place floats near them. The us Navy contends that dolphins do not face any "significant" risk since they possess biological sonars far superior to any electronic system designed by humans.

The dolphins are aided by a number of trained sea lions from the navy's Mammal Maritime Unit in San Diego. Sea lions are known to possess sensitive underwater hearing, and the ability to see in dim light. "The navy will continue to use these systems as long as they are more effective than existing hardware," a spokesperson said.

Hundreds of pigeons have also been despatched to the us army and marine regiments. The birds are used to indicate the presence of nerve agents, as they are known to die twice as fast as humans when exposed to gas and nerve agents.

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