Does Strapping a Gun to a Dolphin's Head Sound Ethical?

Ukraine is allegedly testing dolphins' ability to utilize weaponry by fixing it to their heads.

Dolphins allegedly trained with guns strapped to heads in Ukraine.
A Bay Area native, Andri Antoniades has previously worked as a fashion industry journalist and a medical writer.

It sounds like a scheme concocted by a James Bond villain, circa 1965― strap a gun to a dolphin’s head then set it loose to attack enemy deep sea divers. The obvious questions are, “How would a dolphin pull the trigger of a gun strapped to its head?” followed by, “Really, we've no simpler means to underwater defense than imprisoning sea mammals and training them to handle firearms?”

Nonetheless, Ukraine is allegedly doing just that. According to a report from Russia’s RIA Novosti, the former Soviet republic is reportedly training “killer dolphins”― with knives or guns fixed to their heads― in order to attack enemy combat swimmers.  

An unnamed military source explained to the news agency, “We are now planning training exercises for counter-combat swimmer tasks in order to defend ships in port and on raids.”

According to Wired, utilizing sea creatures for military purposes isn't a new concept; dolphins especially have a history of naval work. Ethical or not, the U.S. employs the mammals to hunt mines and detect hidden enemy divers― not in order to shoot them, but to detect them.  And when Russia was part of the USSR, the country once armed dolphins with carbon dioxide emitters, and according to the magazine, the US may have tried a similar tactic in training missions as well.

But whether or not trainers could actually fix a firearm or a knife to a dolphin’s head and have the animal utilize it in combat seems unlikely. Brandon Webb, a former Navy SEAL reported to Wired that dolphins can be lethal without weaponry, and because they obviously don’t have arms, setting off a gun would be impossible without the aid of some sort of contraption. 

Feasibility issues aside, the most important question still remains, why are we or any other country using dolphins as part of our defense strategy? Capturing and using the animals to kill people for our own political agendas seems to be simply the latest example of wildlife exploitation done for our own personal (and petty) gains.  And considering the massacres at Taiji and the ubiquity of marine-life theme parks, dolphins in particular have been the target of some of our worst offenses. 

Ric O’Barry, Director of the Dolphin Project at Earth Island Institute told TakePart, "It is sad and crazy that the Ukraine is joining the United States Navy and other powers to train one of the most intelligent and peaceful species on Earth to fight our wars for us.  Haven't dolphins suffered enough?" 

What do you think about animals being used in a country’s national defense strategy? Are there any instances you think would make it okay? Let us know in the Comments.

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