[DEHAI] NYT: China Reports Dolphins Foiled Pirate Attack

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From: senaey fethi (senaeyfethi@yahoo.com)
Date: Thu Apr 16 2009 - 04:18:48 EDT

April 15, 2009, 4:01 pm
By Robert Mackey
China Radio International China Radio International reported that this group of dolphins blocked Somali pirates who were trying to attack Chinese merchant ships in the Gulf of Aden.
According to a report from China’s official news agency Xinhua, “thousands of dolphins” recently prevented an attack on Chinese merchant ships by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden. Xinhua’s Web site published the photograph above, and three others, which first appeared on the Web site of China Radio International on Monday.
It has to be said that none of the photographs actually shows the boats said to contain Somali pirates being blocked by the dolphins, but Xinhua reported news of the dolphin intervention as fact. Xinhua’s English-language report, about a group of merchant ships escorted through the dangerous waters by vessels from the Chinese navy, contains some translation errors, but describes the efforts of the newest members of the anti-piracy coalition in glowing, even poetic, detail:
The Chinese merchant ships escorted by a China’s fleet sailed on the Gulf of Aden when they met some suspected pirate ships. Thousands of dolphins suddenly leaped out of water between pirates and merchants when the pirate ships headed for the China’s.
The suspected pirates ships stopped and then turned away. The pirates could only lament their littleness befor the vast number of dolphins. The spectacular scene continued for a while.
Xinhua does not suggest that the cetacean force may have been part of a classified military program, but given that we know that the United States military has at least tried to train dolphins to work for the government, The Lede is not yet willing to rule out the possibility.
In 1989 Timothy Egan, who now blogs for The Times, reported in the newspaper that the United States Navy was working on a plan to use dolphins to guard a nuclear submarine base and had already spent millions of dollars on training, though there had been some problems:
As part of a top-secret program expanded in the Reagan administration, the Navy has spent nearly $30 million in the last four years trying to put the highly intelligent marine mammals to military use. [...]
Critics question the ethics of using what is seen as a benign creature for military tasks and charge that dolphins, known to be independent and unpredictable, are not reliable guardians. [...]
Navy officials admit that dolphins and sea lions, which are also being trained for military use, have occasionally been absent without leave or have refused to obey orders.
While that Dr. Evil-like plan was officially abandoned in 1991 because of budget cuts after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and former dolphin members of the Soviet Navy were reportedly finding new lines of work in 1997, there were reports in the wake of Hurricane Katrina that, as the Guardian suggested in 2005: “Armed dolphins, trained by the U.S. military to shoot terrorists and pinpoint spies underwater, may be missing in the Gulf of Mexico.” The Guardian report cited concerns that the dolphins may have been trained “to shoot at divers in wetsuits who have simulated terrorists in exercises,” and added, not so reassuringly, that “the U.S. navy admits it has been training dolphins for military purposes, but has refused to confirm that any are missing.”

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