The Navy program started in 1959. In the early years, the Navy tested out more than a dozen animals, including sharks, sea turtles, and birds. Today just two species are used: bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions.
“The Navy’s dolphins and sea lions perform missions that the Navy cannot yet accomplish in any other way,” says Mark Xitco. He’s the director of the program.
Both animals are very smart and easy to train. And both can quickly adapt to different environments, like shallow waters or deep seas.
But there are more dolphins in the program because they use echolocation. That means they use sound to “see” underwater!