Mine-seeking dolphins make historic discovery

Long-time readers might have kept up on the various military usages for dolphins. They can wield pistols, and they can help hunt for underwater mines. Generally, they haven’t been used in any sort of Indiana Jones-like archeological digs, which makes the discovery made by two dolphins off the cost of Coronado, Calif. all that much more impressive.

The discovery: a Howell torpedo, a United States torpedo from the late 19th century, which was high military technology at the time.

When first created, the Howell torpedo had major implications for helping the United States be the dominant naval force in the world. The design was quickly outdated, though. Only about 50 were ever made, between 1870 and 1889, when the technology was surpassed.

The 11-foot long torpedo is made of brass and had a range of 400 yards while traveling at 25 knots. Not bad for the 1800s.

The dolphins themselves follow simple system for alerting the Navy of any found objects. They take a dive and, if they find nothing, touch the back of the boat with their snouts. If they find something, they touch the front of the boat.

Before these dolphins came along and found the relic, only one Howell was known to exist. It’s displayed at the Naval Undersea Museum in Keyport, Wash. The newly discovered Howell will likely be displayed in a museum as well.

Via LA Times

For the latest tech stories, follow DVICE on Twitter
at @dvice or find us on Facebook

User Comments