Jason G. Goldman on io9:
Perhaps you’ve heard that Ukraine had a small battalion of dolphin soldiers, trained to sniff out mines and patrol the border. Since the dolphins were housed at an aquarium in the Crimean city of Sevastopol, they now answer to the Russian Navy.
The Russian news agency RIA Novosti is reporting that the dolphin training program, which was originally founded in the 1960s, was actually meant to be disbanded next month. But the Russians have decided to infuse new funds into the program and keep it going.
One source told the news agency that the dolphins are currently outfitted with old, outdated equipment, but that the facility’s engineers are working on new instruments to “boost the operational efficiency of the dolphins underwater.” The Ukrainian Army lacked the technical expertise to “convert the detection of objects by the dolphins’ underwater sonar to a signal on an operator’s monitor,” but the Russian Army seems to have the know-how.
He was more than a dolphin, but from another dolphin’s point of view he might have seemed like something less. I watched him swirling sluggishly in his galvanized tank. Water slopped over the side, wetting my shoes. He was surplus from the last war. A cyborg.
He rose out of the water, showing us the crusted plates along his sides, a kind of visual pun, his grace nearly lost under articulated armor, clumsy and prehistoric. Twin deformities on either side of his skull had been engineered to house sensor units. Silver lesions gleamed on exposed sections of his gray-white hide.
Molly whistled. Jones thrashed his tail, and more water cascaded down the side of the tank.
"What is this place?" I peered at vague shapes in the dark, rusting chain link and things under tarps. Above the tank hung a clumsy wooden framework, crossed and recrossed by rows of dusty Christmas lights.
"Funland. Zoo and carnival rides. ‘Talk with the War Whale.’ All that. Some whale Jones is…"
Jones reared again and fixed me with a sad and ancient eye.
Jones heaved half his armored bulk over the edge of his tank, and I thought the metal would give way. Molly stabbed him overhand with the syrette, driving the needle between two plates. Propellant hissed. Patterns of light exploded, sparking across the frame and then fading to black.
We left him drifting, rolling languorously in the dark water. Maybe he was dreaming of his war in the Pacific, of the cyber mines he’d swept, nosing gently into their circuitry with the Squid he’d used to pick Ralfi’s pathetic password from the chip buried in my head.
"I can see them slipping up when he was demobbed, letting him out of the navy with that gear intact, but how does a cybernetic dolphin get wired to smack?"
"The war," she said. "They all were. Navy did it. How else you get ‘em working for you?"