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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Military Dolphins, Sea Lions Save San Francisco From Terror

Posted By on Tue, May 18, 2010 at 1:11 PM

Smile! You're on Dolphin Camera. - JOE ESKENAZI
  • Joe Eskenazi
  • Smile! You're on Dolphin Camera.
Trained journalists cover trained beasts

The opportunity to watch Gavin Newsom watch Navy sea lions and dolphins in a terror-fighting exercise was just too good. Scores of creatures, meticulously trained via rote exercises, were on display in Mission Bay.

That would be the press corps, who eagerly snapped and scribbled away as the admittedly wondrous Navy-trained beasts put on a demonstration of what they'd do if terrorists placed a mine on a decrepit San Francisco pier or slowly loitered underwater.

The first test came for sea lions -- named "Zach" and "Gremlin" -- who had to locate a limpet mine the press was tipped was affixed to column number four of the tumbledown pier. After being tossed liberal amounts of fish, the hulking sea creature spotted the mine, and returned to a small boat for more fish and a marker. He placed the marker atop the mine and a human counterpart -- perhaps a real Navy Seal -- hopped in the water to retrieve it.
click to enlarge What's that, Gremlin? Timmy fell down the well? - JOE ESKENAZI
  • Joe Eskenazi
  • What's that, Gremlin? Timmy fell down the well?

click to enlarge The sea lion returns to the boat and a two-legged colleague hits the water - JOE ESKENAZI
  • Joe Eskenazi
  • The sea lion returns to the boat and a two-legged colleague hits the water

click to enlarge Mine! Mine all mine! - JOE ESKENAZI
  • Joe Eskenazi
  • Mine! Mine all mine!

The human brandished the mine for all the gathered masses to behold. He received no fish.

And here's some video of the whole thing:


The U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program's next demonstration was trickier -- and required the cooperation of three species. First, a dolphin rolled off a boat and into the water. The creature located some divers lurking beneath the waves and released a marker. A seal spotted the marker, swam to the undersea interlopers, and affixed a large leg cuff to the diver's ankle. Human police then reeled the frogman in while menacingly pointing an assault rifle at his head. All in all, kind of like a Sea World show, but with guns.

Here's how that all went down: 

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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