Fin-footed combat: Navy seal undergoes training for future service (VIDEO)
Once their skills have been honed, the animals can carry out tasks ranging from detecting objects at sea to patrolling facilities from below. As seen in footage from the Murmansk Marine Biological Institute in Russia’s Arctic, the seal grabs cables and swims around on command, preparing for its future missions. At one point, the round-eyed animal emerges briefly from the dark waters before plunging back in, apparently searching for a specific target.
With coaches both on the boat and underwater, the trainee seal is rewarded with treats once it completes the exercises. The seal is on the leash, attached to a boat, so the animal doesn’t head out into the open sea.
Using seals, dolphins or even whales, for military and civil purposes is nothing new. Located in the Arctic Circle, the institute founded a special department to train animals in a series of skills back in 1984.
There are currently nine seals living on the training base, according to Kommersant. It takes nearly a year and a half to train one mammal. First, the seals learn to let humans come close to them and allow people to attach equipment, as well as to get inside transfer boxes.
Then the animals are trained to perform specific tasks, such as examining targets at depth with a camera, or detecting objects in murky waters. They are also taught to pass instruments to divers who are working underwater.
The history of training marine mammals in Russia dates back to the 1960s, when the USSR started preparing combat dolphins and seals at the Crimean peninsula. The Soviet Navy used the animals to patrol the area, rescue lost naval swimmers or locate underwater mines. Suspended for more than two decades, the program was resumed in 2012.