US NAVY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY US NAVY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
US Navy sea lion (Zalophus californianus), training underwater. This animal has been trained by the Navy Marine Mammal Program (NMMP), San Diego, USA, to locate objects underwater. The sea lion carries a tethered bite-plate in its mouth. It is trained to locate objects which emit a low frequency 'ping' (such as underwater mines) and hook the bite plate onto the object. Once secured, navy crew in a boat are able to pull the object out of the water. The sea lion carries a backpack transponder to enable the animal's movements to be tracked. The US Navy also trains dolphins, killer whales and beluga whales for a variety of underwater tasks that are easier for animals to perform than human divers.
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