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The U.S. Navy Has Trained Sea Lions to Arrest Suspicious Divers

Meet the cutest members of the military.


You've heard of dogs working with police officers. But sea lions working with the U.S. Navy? It's a real thing. The Navy has been working with sea lions for decades. Their responsibilities include retrieving lost equipment, mine sweeping and arresting enemy combatants underwater.

During its existence, the U.S. Navy's Marine Mammal Program has employed dolphins, sea lions and even a beluga whale.

They even tried to turn sharks into suicide bombers, but that plan didn't work out so well.

Military dolphins have been trained to find lost scuba divers, sweep for landmines and serve as underwater lookouts. Dolphins actually helped provide security at the 1996 Republican National Convention, because it took place in a San Diego convention center that was right next to the water.

There are many more dolphins than sea lions working for the Navy (80, as opposed to 28, according to Gizmodo), but the sea lions still have important jobs to do.

Sea lions were first used by the Navy to retrieve objects that were lost or fired underwater.

navy sea lions

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They were eventually promoted to active duty — serving as sentries for military ships and piers.

They can even apprehend and detain divers who might be enemy combatants. So be careful if you happen to be scuba diving near a military base; you could be arrested by a sea lion.

You may be wondering, "But how does a sea lion make an arrest?"

navy sea lions

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Well, the sea lion would place a special clamp around the diver's legs, sort of like handcuffs but for the ankles. This clamp would be attached to a line, so human operatives could reel the suspect into a boat or pier.

In 2009, the Navy announced that its first permanent team of sea lions would be posted at Kitsap-Bangor base in Washington State. Their duties include patrolling for enemy divers and sweeping for explosives.

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