Mine-sweeping US Navy dolphins in Croatia to help comb seabed for unexploded bombs

Team of six bottlenoses will use impeccable hearing and sonar capabilities to mark devices dropped during conflicts in the region

Croatia's tourist capital Dubrovnik has a new star attraction to rival its stunning medieval walled city.

Tourists have been flocking to the city's palm-lined pier to catch a glimpse of American mine-sniffing dolphins, waiting in an enclosure before being sent off on a very important mission.

The dolphins, which belong to the US Navy, have been flown out to Croatia to comb its coastline for unexploded mines and bombs left over from a string of wars dating back to the beginning of the last century.

The team of six highly-trained bottlenoses are working with US divers and members of the Croatian navy to scour the pristine waters of Dubrovnik for devices that may have ended up at the bottom of the sea following both the world wars and the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s.

During their three-week mission, the aquatic mammals will search areas of interest, locating potentially dangerous devices and marking them for Navy divers to photograph, identify and dispose of. Divers from Croatia, Montenegro and Slovenia - all once part of Yugoslavia - will also take part in the mission.

Dolphins are famed for their advanced hearing and sonar capabilities, as well as their ability to see underwater, and therefore have been used by the Navy since 1959 to help locate underwater objects. They are also able to make repeated dives without suffering side effects that are common in human divers, such as 'the bends' or decompression sickness.

"Dolphins are very good at finding very small things in very cluttered shallow bottoms," team spokesman Christian Harris told US military news website Stars and Stripes. “Machinery can’t do that.”

The animals working in Croatia were born in a Navy facility in San Diego, where they will have undergone two years training before taking part in any underwater missions, Harris said.

Any mines found are likely to be the result of artillery or naval shells fired during the Yugoslavian war of independence in that started in 1991, when Dubrovnik was cut off for four months during a siege by the Yugoslav navy, which was at the time comprised of Serbia and Montenegro.

The goal of the dolphins' mission, dubbed Dolphin 2013, is to enable Croatia, Monenegro and Slovenia to build a long-term, sustainable underwater demining programme of their own, according to organisers.

The dolphins were flown out to the Mediterranean city on a C-17 military jet, where they lay in rubber hammocks suspended in special tanks partially filled with water.

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
people

Mike Tyson branded 'superhero' after a surprise good turn

Sport
A Rutherford Raiders shirt with the PornHub sponsorship
football

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Charlie Sheen said he would
tv

Charlie Sheen could be set to revive his role as a hedonistic womaniser

Life and Style
Jamie Oliver’s version of Jollof rice led thousands of people to post angry comments on his website
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
glastonbury
News
Apple CEO Timothy Cook
people
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film

Review: Mike Leigh's biopic is a rambling, rich character study

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

KS1 Teacher Cornwall

£20000 - £45000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd...

Early Years Teacher - Jan 2015 - China

Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Position: Early Years TeacherRequired: J...

KS1 and KS2 Primary NQT Job in Lancaster Area

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education is urgently...

Trainee Recruitment Consultants

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes