Highly-trained US Navy bomb-locating bottlenose dolphins are being used to locate vaquitas.
The US and Mexican Navies, as well as scientists in both countries, plan to deploy a squadron of highly trained, bomb-locating bottlenose dolphins this spring to search out their tiny, highly endangered relatives, the vaquitas, in an effort to conserve the last of the rapidly disappearing porpoises. The dolphins usually use sonar for missions of hunting down underwater mines or warding off enemy swimmers. Right now, the plans are to use the bottlenose dolphins to locate and capture a few vaquitas, and transport them to a safe location. If the captured vaquitas were then to breed, that would be ideal. The team just hopes to keep a few vaquitas alive and safe until the region is free from illegal fishing.
Eventually the goal is to return the tiny porpoises to the Gulf of California.
• Image | © Paula Olson, NOAA, Public Domain
• Sources | (Becker, 2017; Dibble, 2016)