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Marine mammals

California Sea Lions

Sea lion finds mine

Mine

Human diver attack

Dolphin marker

Sea lion

Caught

Pier 48

The U.S. Navy is showing off some unlikely recruits in California.

Its Marine Mammal Program conducted training exercises Tuesday in the San Francisco Bay using sea lions and dolphins that have been trained to perform underwater surveillance for object detection, location, marking, and recovery.

In a full-scale regional exercise focusing on the state's response and recovery to multiple terrorist attacks at Bay Area ports, federal, state, and city officials took part in the Golden Guardian emergency preparedness program.

At Pier 48 in San Francisco, the city's police and fire departments, along with its Emergency Operations Center, conducted a drill demonstrating the ability of dolphins and California Sea Lions to help protect coastal areas from maritime attacks.

Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET
California Sea Lions are trained at the Navy Marine Mammal Program in San Diego to patrol coastal waters and search out foreign objects like mines, IEDs (improvised explosive devices), and human threats.
Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET
After being released from his holding pen aboard the ship, this sea lion was able to find a simulated mine that had been attached to a pylon at Pier 48 in San Francisco.
Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET
The sea lion attaches a magnetic marker to the device and returns to the boat, at which time human divers are able to return to the device for closer inspection and removal.
Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET
A second demonstration Tuesday showed the ability of dolphins and sea lions to act together to detect and neutralize an enemy diver in waters around the ports of the San Francisco Bay.
Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET
With incredibly sensitive sonar able to detect objects and people that might otherwise be obscured in dark or cloudy waters, the dolphin is used to locate a person, dropping a marker in the water to identify the target's location.
Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET
Once the dolphin has successfully determined the location of the target, a sea lion is released and given a handcuff-like clasp, which it then attaches to the subject's leg.
Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET
The clasp carried by the sea lion, which is anchored to the responding boat, is then reeled in, and the subject is taken into custody by law enforcement.
Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET
"Exercises like this, which allow cooperation between federal, state, and local agencies, are valuable training opportunities for all involved in ensuring public safety," said Tom LaPuzza, public affairs officer for the Navy's Marine Mammal Program.
Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET
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