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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

US Navy may use dolphins, sea lions for patrols

Dozens of dolphins and sea lions trained to detect and apprehend waterborne attackers could be sent on a mission to patrol a military base in Washington state, the US Navy said Monday.

In a notice published in this week's Federal Register, the Navy said it needs to bolster security at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, located on the Puget Sound close to Seattle. The base is home to submarines, ships and laboratories and is potentially vulnerable to attack by terrorist swimmers and scuba divers, the notice states.

Several options are under consideration, but the preferred plan would be to send as many as 30 California sea lions and Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins from the Navy's Marine Mammal Program, based in San Diego.

"These animals have the capabilities for what needs to be done for this particular mission," said Tom Lapuzza, a spokesman for the Marine Mammal Program. The Navy is seeking public comment for an Environmental Impact Statement it is preparing on the proposal.

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