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Marine Mammals in the Military

Image by NataliGlado via

Although many militaries around the world do not do this, some countries make use of marine mammals to protect their navy assets. These marine mammals are highly intelligent and easily trained, and like most military tactics, are part of a mostly classified project. But let’s look at what we know and learn more about marine mammals in the military. 

What Marine Mammals Are Used?

bottlenose dolphin
Image by Tom Swinnen on Pexels

These marine mammals are used for their fast swimming abilities, the depths they can reach, and their natural sonar abilities. In the table below we compare these abilities to that of a combat swimmer: 

Swimming speedDepth
Human2 knots49 feet
Bottlenose dolphin16 knots1770 feet
Beluga whale5 knots2130 feet 
Sea Lion22 knots900 feet
Seals20 knots1500 feet

Why Are They Used?

Beluga whales
Beluga whales at the surface. Image by petr-slezak via

As the table above shows, these marine mammals swim much faster and deeper than a human can, even trained combat swimmers! Beluga whales, although not the fastest of these animals, can reach depths others can’t. Whereas the Sea Lion, who can’t swim as deep as the others,  can swim incredibly fast. 

What Do They Do? 

Sea Lion colony close to the seashore. Image by Joss Woodhead on Unsplash

Their high intelligence makes them easy to train, which is another reason they are chosen to help the military. In the field, they patrol and guard naval assets such as ships and submarines. If they trace and track an enemy swimmer looking to cause harm to their assets, they warn the armed guard so that they can respond to the threat. These incredible animals are also trained to help in search and rescue missions and have helped save many. Dolphins can even track underwater mines and have been trained to place a buoy line where they spot one for divers to investigate.

Watch This Video to Learn More

YouTube video
Marine Mammals in Military – Whales & Dolphins in Navy. Source: Youtube, Uploaded: New Horizon TV

Final Say on Marine Mammals in the Military

Seals relaxing on a rock. Image by izanbar via

These animals and their agility, underwater senses, and trainable nature make them valuable assets to the military. Especially when it comes to tasks that humans or technology have come up sub-par. However, no matter how valuable they are to the military, there have been many ethical debates on this topic. Let us know what your opinion is in the comments!

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