this is fucking surreal, it´s from bbcnews.com so it´s concrete truth Dolphins clear mines the natural way By Alex Kirby BBC News Online environment correspondent Dolphins have been pressed into service in the coalition war effort in the Gulf. The dolphins are basically like underwater sniffer dogs Two animals trained by the US Navy are helping to clear mines from the waters around the southern Iraqi port of Umm Qasr. The coalition says the dolphins will help to make the port safe for aid cargoes and for other vessels. The Navy says they are well cared for, and face little danger. The dolphins are from the US Navy's Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Three (Eodmu 3), based in Coronado, California. Nine have been flown to the Gulf, with a number of trained sea lions from the Navy's Mammal Maritime Unit in San Diego. Two Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, called Tacoma and Makai, were taken by helicopter to Umm Qasr in fleece-lined slings, partially submerged in water tanks. Makai has been at Eodmu 3 for 20 years, and Tacoma is described as one of the unit's most vocal animals. This is the first time any of Eodmu 3's animals have been used for mine clearance. Helping the troops They are trained not to touch any mines they find, but to mark them with floats. The Navy says they face no "significant" risk. It says it uses dolphins because their biological sonar is far superior to human systems for detecting objects in the water and on the sea bed. Getting used to the Gulf Sea lions are chosen for their very sensitive underwater hearing, and their ability to see in low light. "The old port area was mined extensively during the Iran-Iraq war, and there's a fear that some of them may have sunk deep into the silt. "When we are bringing humanitarian aid ships in, or any vessels for that matter, we need to be 100% sure the berths and channels are safe." He said the dolphins were "pampered far better" than any champion from Crufts dog show would ever be. . "The Navy will continue to use these systems as long as they are more effective than existing hardware." The Navy has about 40 animals altogether, some trained to find mines, some to home in on objects like test torpedoes with acoustic pingers. Another group specialises in detecting swimmers, and is used for protecting ships and harbours. the sea lions of war With the military build-up in the Persian Gulf showing no sign of abating the US Navy has unveiled its secret weapon - a crack troupe of sea lions. The sea lions can carry out repeated dives to great depths without tiring The specially trained mammals have been deployed to the region to protect US and British warships against attacks from underwater saboteurs and mines. These whiskered warriors are even capable of clamping a floating marker to the legs of an intruder, alerting troops to his position, who can then move in and haul the attacker out of the water. The British naval commander in the Gulf, Rear Admiral David Snelson, warned on Monday that possible al-Qaeda attacks on warships in the region was the biggest security threat facing his forces as they prepare for a possible war with Iraq. Now as an armada of more than 130 US and British Navy warships and support vessels is crowded into the Gulf, the sea lions have been pressed into action. Sea lions were chosen for the task of patrolling the harbours because not only are they extremely intelligent, but they have acute directional underwater hearing and work well in low light visibility. "They have very sophisticated sonar systems that can detect movement," said Rear Admiral Snelson. In addition they can swim at 40 kilometres per hour (25 miles per hour) and carry out repeated dives of up to 300 metres (1000 feet). "For thousands of years of his history, man has made use of the capabilities of animals, their strength, extraordinary senses, swimming or flying ability," Tom LaPuzza, public affairs spokesman for the US Navy Marine Mammal Programme said. But animal rights groups object to the use of animals in combat. Among those carrying out patrol duties will be 385-pound Zac "It is simply not ethical to put animals in harm's way. War is a human endeavour and while people and political parties may decide war is necessary, animals cannot," Dawn Carr, a spokeswoman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) told BBC News Online. "They never enlisted, they know nothing of Iraq or Saddam Hussein and will probably not survive," she added. The US Navy says it has about 20 of these sea lions, who can be rapidly deployed by land, sea or air. They regularly take part in major naval exercises, but this will be the first time they have taken on a real combat role. The sea lions in the Gulf are all graduates of the US Navy's Marine Mammal Programme in San Diego, California. There they are trained in mine recovery - diving down, locating a mine and if possible attaching a grabber device which can be used to recover it. The US Navy has used dolphins in combat roles since Vietnam Sea lions can even pursue a suspect onto dry land - alerting all in the vicinity with their loud honks. Also based in San Diego are three groups of dolphins, also trained to detect mines and humans. Dolphins are no strangers to combat, having been used by the US Navy to patrol the water of Vietnam during the 1970s as well as the Persian Gulf in the Iran-Iraq war. But this time the Navy opted to use sea lions because they are more manoeuvrable than their cetacean counterparts and better able to handle the higher temperatures in the region. history Since the days of Hannibal crossing the Alps with his elephants an exotic array of animals have been pressed into military action. Even bats have been called upon to take part in military attacks Perhaps the most bizarre plan was when the US launched Project X-Ray in World War II - an attempt to attack Japan with bats carrying tiny satchels bearing incendiary devices. The plan backfired when on a practice run the bats attacked the wrong target, and set fire to a military airfield in New Mexico. In the recent Afghan conflict troops were on alert for attacks by kamikaze camels strapped with explosives, a tactic the mujahideen used against Soviet troops. And in the event of a US-led attack on Iraq the US army plans to ride chickens into battle in cages atop Humvees, used as early warning gas detectors. The US Army calls the strategy Operation Kuwaiti Field Chicken - or KFC - but the plan has been put on hold after 41 of the 43 chickens deployed to the Gulf died within a week of arrival. Still, headed into the fray will be some of the 1,400 dogs who work in the US military - carrying out tasks ranging from mine detection to the rescue and recovery of dead and wounded personnel.