Reports of a trio of military-trained "attack" dolphins escaping from a Ukrainian military training facility are being disputed today by the nation's defense ministry, which has denied the existence of the facility.
State-run Russian news agency RIA Novosti came out with the report Tuesday, claiming three male dolphins
that were part of a top-secret Ukrainian military training program escaped from a base in Sevastopol on the Crimean peninsula.
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The report cited a "former Soviet naval anti-sabotage officer," who attributed the alleged escape to male dolphins seeking female companionship in the ocean.
"If a male dolphin saw a female dolphin during the mating season, then he would immediately set off after her. But they came back in a week or so," Yury Plyachenko told RIA Novosti, adding that similar incidents occurred during Soviet dolphin training programs during the 1980s.
Last year, RIA Novosti reported that the Ukrainian Navy was training 10 dolphins to detect mines and attack enemy swimmers. At the time, Ukraine's Defense Ministry claimed the story was untrue.
On Tuesday, The Atlantic reported that the story of the escaped dolphins
was in fact a hoax, after a a museum director reportedly told RIA Novosti the false news.
However, the idea of military facilities using dolphins to protect harbors and kill enemy frogmen is not far-fetched.
Dolphin scientist Justin Gregg said both the United States and Ukrainian militaries have programs in which the aquatic mammals are trained to assist the military in underwater exercises.
Additionally, the Soviet Union, before its fall, maintained a training facility in the Ukraine where dolphins were trained to "attack enemy combat swimmers using special knives or pistols fixed to their heads."
The BBC reported the dolphins were trained to carry out "kamikaze missions," in which they were strapped with mines and to destroy enemy vessels in place of torpedoes.
According to Wired, the Soviet's former military training facility was turned over to the Ukrainian government after the Cold War
On its website, the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program denies ever training dolphins to kill humans, writing that "the Navy does not now train, nor has it ever trained, its marine mammals to harm or injure humans in any fashion or to carry weapons to destroy ships."
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