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Navy May Use Mine-Detecting Dolphins In the Straight of Hormuz 204

Posted by Soulskill
from the more-effective-than-mutated-sea-bass dept.
New submitter cervesaebraciator writes "The Atlantic Wire reports that the Navy has a tested solution to the possible mining of the Strait of Hormuz. The Navy has 80 dolphins in San Diego Bay trained to use their own sonar to detect mines. When they find the mines, the dolphins drop an acoustic transponder nearby, so that human divers might return to defuse it. Retired Adm. Tim Keating cannot say, however, whether the dolphins will be used in the Straight." The Obama administration has reportedly warned Iran that closing the Strait would provoke an American response.
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Navy May Use Mine-Detecting Dolphins In the Straight of Hormuz

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 15, 2012 @06:27AM (#38704562)

    With lasers of course...

  • straight straits (Score:5, Informative)

    by mrvan (973822) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @06:29AM (#38704568)

    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20081210140645AADMNkG [yahoo.com]

    Whats the difference between Straight and Strait?
    Straight, as in a line without a waver or curve.
    Strait: "A strait is a narrow, navigable channel of water that connects two larger navigable bodies of water. "

    And for the love of foreigners, if you guys do something about your spelling issues, please remove unsounded letters (like the "gh" in straight"), don't add any more of them. That's just cheating at scrabble!

    • Re:straight straits (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 15, 2012 @08:22AM (#38704914)

      It's a legacy of English being the bastard love child of all the languages that passed through western Europe. Strait and Straight have different etymologies, so they've inherited the spellings that evolved from their respective parent languages. Strait comes from the Old French "estreit", whereas straight comes from Anglo-Saxon "streccan". Give it another few hundred years and they'll standardise on something spelt similar to both (my guess would be "strate")

      • Yes, why not preserve the silent e and the sliding 'ai'.. or better yet, lets pronounce it! strah... teh.. hmm yes

      • by vux984 (928602)

        Give it another few hundred years and they'll standardise on something spelt similar to both (my guess would be "strate")

        Is spelling still evolving the way it used to? I'd have thought the prevalence of print books, availability of dictionaries, and the prevalence of spell checkers, etc over the last hundred years would have started to impose a resistance to the previous fluidity.

        • But now we have "texting language", which is exerting a fair amount of pressure for spelling change, I think. And although not changing particularly, there are huge differences in spelling of English between American and British forms.
    • by sa1lnr (669048) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @10:42AM (#38705474)

      Thank-you for setting the record strait. :)

    • And for the love of foreigners, if you guys do something about your spelling issues, please remove unsounded letters (like the "gh" in straight"), don't add any more of them.

      Not to change the topic too badly, but if you're concerned with unsounded letters in major languages, it's French you should be worried about. They seem to take a policy of "last three letters are optional -- hope you didn't learn the language just from speech!"

    • Re:straight straits (Score:5, Interesting)

      by 1u3hr (530656) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @12:48PM (#38706238)
      The word "strait" seems to be unknown to many these days. I'm always seeing "straight-laced", "straight-jacket", never before seen a geographical "straight" though.

      Slashdot: a new frontier in illiteracy.

    • I live close by. That strait sure ain't straight at all. It makes a rather distinct dog leg around the UAE.
    • by a whoabot (706122)

      I've never thought of the "gh" as in "thought" and "straight" etc. as indicative of nothing in pronunciation. I've always spoken it as a syllable break, a glottal stop, or by turning the preceding monophthong into a diphthong or the preceding diphthong into a triphthong. This is definitely left over from when there was the more noticeable Germanic [x] in these words. I find most people around me render, for example, "higher" as [haÉÌ.É(TM)É] and not as [haÉÌeÌÉ], s

      • by a whoabot (706122)

        I see that Slashdot does not take IPA very well. Let me try something more confusing: hai.er not haier

    • by drawfour (791912)
      So if Iran puts enough mines that it's no longer navigable, does it cease to be called a strait?
  • So long... (Score:5, Funny)

    by speps (1108625) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @06:33AM (#38704586) Homepage
    ... and thanks for all the oil !
  • Potential problem. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @06:42AM (#38704606)
    Dolphins are a recognised Cute Animal. People like them. People love them. People have made a TV series around one. Some people practically worship them. If a dolphin is killed in action, the public outcry is unpredictable. Maybe it'll be nothing at all, maybe it'll be worse than a human casualty - after all, people expect those. KIA dolphins are unprecidented, there is no telling how it will go PR-wise. Other than that PETA is probably already writing their first letter of complaint, of course.
    • by AHuxley (892839)
      An enemy missile hitting the dolphin transport pen/vessel?
      It would be like the 1982 Hyde Park and Regent's Park bombings all over again.
    • I doubt it. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      No matter how many dolphin friendly tuna have been trained, dolphins still die by the hundred each year in monofilament drift nets.

      If we really want to save the dolphins, we need to give up eating tuna. Despite all the whining from PETA on that subject, there has been minimal effect. The death of brave dolphin fighters in protecting the god-given right to cheap oil will have a similar effect.

      Nothing.

      Poor bloody dolphins.

      • Re:I doubt it. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @07:49AM (#38704814)
        Every month on roads in the US, a number of people are killed approximatly equal to the deaths in the September 11 attacks. People care a lot more about deaths caused by deliberate action than they do about deaths occuring by accidents. This holds true for animals as well: There is also news fatigue: Once something like tuna-fishing has been going on long enough, people lose the ability to care.
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          There is also news fatigue: Once something like tuna-fishing has been going on long enough, people lose the ability to care.

          There is also delicious, delicious tuna in a can for a buck.*

          * (due to the state of the economy, the can of tuna still costs a buck, but it has shrunk by about a third...)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 15, 2012 @06:54AM (#38704642)

    You know, for the Americans to but the hell out of other countries business and look at their own issues instead.

    Stop waging war on the peoples of this planet (those that have oil at least) and you might find your place in the world moves up from itinerant and hated troublemaker to respected citizen.

    Hard I know aftrer so many decades of poking your nose it's not welcome... but hell, give it a try.

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Just wait for amazing new facts surrounding: .... Pan Am Flight 103, how Saddam's Iraq was invaded, who really attacked the USS Liberty, who helped with the USS Pueblo, had ships in the Gulf of Tonkin, sent engineers to Grenada, trained the mysterious “John Doe” who worked with Timothy McVeigh, set up the Fast and Furious gunrunning, likes beheading diplomats, impersonates CIA agents... trained the pilots that ... have nuclear ..... , programmed Stuxnet...
    • by Spy Handler (822350) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @07:42AM (#38704776) Homepage Journal

      and if sprinkling fairy dust on rainbows begets unicorns and world peace, everyone could live in love and harmony!

      However, we live in the real world. The big dogs on the block always push little ones around. Been like that since the first homo erectus climbed down from the trees. You think the any of the previous powers were "respected citizens" that "minded their own business"? How about the British empire? Soviet? Chinese? French? (yes the French were actually a major power as recently as the 19th century)

      As far as US goes, it's actually quite benign in comparison to every other dominant power that came before it. What do you think the (insert empire name) would've done in (insert troublespot name)?

      But anyhow it looks like all you USA haters will be getting your wish soon. America is declining fast, and the next big dog seems to be lining up to take its place already. You probably know who that is.

      But be careful what you wish for.

      • by couchslug (175151)

        "You think the any of the previous powers were "respected citizens" that "minded their own business"

        Examine how Islam itself spread. No unicorns involved.

        • At the tip of a sword. Thankfully the West invented the gun. And we should all remember the ol saying. Never bring a knife to a gun fight. Trouble with the West however is that it's effectively using their guns for clubbing and not shooting.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 15, 2012 @07:02AM (#38704672)

    Except in this case the personnel are dolphins.

    Should be simple enough to rig one in ten of your mines with an acoustic package that responds to the presence of a Dolphin sonar frequency fingerprint by detonating. Need to be careful that it doesn't respond to a ship playing back Dolphin frequencies on its active sonar.

    From what I understand about the sensitivity of marine mammals to extreme Sonar sound pressure - you wouldn't even need it to detonate - just let out a couple of sonic farts at 140db should deafen the Dolphins permanently. I'm sure the Navy has a nice retirement program for deaf Dolphins. Not like the US Navy could complain - no worse than they do during a typical navel exercise with the active sonar on their submarines and ships.

    Always more marine mammals in the sea.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 15, 2012 @07:15AM (#38704718)

    "This is what I say to Iran. Let me be absolutely clear. If you close the Strait of Hormuz you are making the choice to put innocent dolphins in harms way. The American people will hold YOU responsible for their deaths. Think carefully."

  • And I thought the attack dolphins in that game were silly.

  • Monkeys are as smart as dolphins. Why doesnt someone teach them to use guns? then we could get people out of harms way. What you would do is first fo all locate your enemy with reconnaisance planes then drop some bananas over them and unleash the monkeys. They would naturally move towards the bannanas. It would probably be hard to teach a monkey to target troops of a particular country, so when they were sent in the friendly troops would have to get out of the way.
    • Monkeys are much smarter then dolphins.

      Dolphins are about as smart as pigs or dogs. Which makes them perfect for training. Smart enough to do what you want, too stupid to realize they are expendable.

      The whole 'dolphins are as smart as humans' assertion was made by one 'scientist' who was on acid at the time. He spent the remainder of his life failing to teach dolphins to talk. Near the end of his life actual scientists found the explanation for the abnormally sized dolphin brains; Sonar signal processi

    • Monkeys can be trained to detonate land mines. Morocco offered the US 2000 for that purpose during the initial Iraq war. The US refused. We'd rather use (human) combat engineers for that.

      http://www.upi.com/Business_News/Security-Industry/2003/03/24/Morocco-offers-US-monkeys-to-detonate-mine/UPI-14431048506179/ [upi.com]
  • by Arrepiadd (688829) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @07:57AM (#38704844)

    I once saw a tv show where they talked about these military dolphins. I can't recall what the program was, but the outcome wasn't that great. They basically said the dolphins, being such intelligent creatures, sometimes actually lied for the fun of it. Unlike the dogs who simply do what they're told, the dolphins actually played with the rules and would say no mine was there even if they knew they were spotted as being lying.

    Maybe the psychological side of the training has evolved since then, or maybe it was just a campaign of misinformation, but if it's actually true, doesn't sound too great for this theory...

    • by dotar (1400363)
      I've heard this too, also that the training worked a little too well, in that the dolphins used to bring the mines back to the ships....
  • Iran bought dolphins from Ukraine [bbc.co.uk] in 2000.
    Weren't dolphins also deployed in 2003? I recall a story about them being loosed in the sea and then just swimming off to freedom, but as I'm having trouble finding links to any such story maybe it is misremebered.
    From the TFA I think this is interesting

    Former Admiral KEATING: They are astounding in their ability to detect underwater objects.
    NPR's TOM BOWMAN: Dolphins were sent to the Persian Gulf as part of the American invasion force in Iraq.
    KEATING

  • It worked well with a drone, I see no reason why they won't do the same with the dolphins.
    After the capture they'll proudly demonstrate to the entire world what american dolphin infidels look like, and then send them for reverse engineering in China and Russia.

  • by gatkinso (15975) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @08:44AM (#38704978)

    OK fine, I'm old as dirt.

  • It's a body of water, not an adjective indicating co-linearity.

  • "Straight" is politically incorrect. It's the "Heterosexual of Hormuz".

    (Or "Strait of Hormuz" if you want to be pedantic about it.)

  • by DavidTC (10147) < ... > <neverbox.com>> on Sunday January 15, 2012 @12:15PM (#38706028) Homepage

    The Obama administration has reportedly warned Iran that closing the Straight would provoke an American response.

    I love how it's only the US that can be 'provoked'.

    Remember, folks, Iran's apparently nuclear weapon program, while not illegal in any sense, 'provokes' the US. Countries have a perfect right to develop nukes if they want, and cut off inspections that they are only working towards nuclear power, and all it does is get them kicked out of the nuclear weapon's treaty, which means many countries won't sell uranium to them. That's it. It doesn't give anyone the right to attack them, or be 'provoked' into a war with them.

    I think people have somehow gotten confused since the Iraq war and think developing nukes are 'illegal', but Iraq signed a surrender in war saying they wouldn't develop nukes, so, if they actually had been doing so, it would be a violation of the surrender and the war would be back on. Iran is not anywhere near the same situation.

    However, threatening to bomb Iran in violation of international law is illegal. I don't mean actually bombing Iran, although that's also illegal...just threatening to attack countries over internal matters is actually illegal. As is planning to do so. It's a crime against peace. Somehow, that doesn't count as 'provoking'.

    But, if Iran does what is mostly within international law, closing of its own waterways to transit passage of countries threatening it, that is also 'provoking'. Countries are supposed to allow passage of ships through their waters as long as they don't stop, but they can stop that when, for example, people keep threatening to attack them. (And they can certainly keep out warships of countries that keep threatening them!)

    To summarize: Iran doing things we don't like that are possibly falling short of their treaty obligations, but are not in any way 'illegal', that's 'provoking' us. The US committing the outright war crime of planning and threatening to bomb them to change their internal behavior, why, it's crazy to think Iran might not like that.

    • Parent is well informed on the topic.

      What is even worse is how we have US officials framing the idea of Iran blocking their waterway as an act of war! The Irony!! When it is the US involved in cutting off Iranian Oil from getting out as part of the sanctions against Iran exercising its (unpopular) rights -- that is not an act of war...

      Me, I think it is a big game of chicken. Convincing the other players who is more crazy, the USA or Iran. All the oil buyers want is stability so siding with the USA is what

    • Remember, folks, Iran's apparently nuclear weapon program, while not illegal in any sense

      Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Under that treaty, they are legally restricted from developing nuclear weapons and legally required to allow the IAEA to monitor any nuclear program that they did have.

      If they're pursuing nuclear weaponry, it's clearly illegal.

  • ... the ships can use the gaiy instead.

  • Is there a dolphin union? What about hazard pay, or death benefits to their families? Do they get the GI bill so they can go to school after their tour of duty?

  • Just curious, why are folks spelling it the "Straight of Hormuz" instead of the "Strait." Is that a Queen's English spelling? In the US the correct spelling is definitely "strait," as in: "a narrow channel." Also, the linked articles spell it as "strait."

    Not meaning to be a pedant here, I'm actually genuinely curious. Either it's a common spelling error or a cultural standards difference, and I was wondering which.

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