Dolphins make rare discovery off Coronado

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SAN DIEGO – Dolphins trained at Naval Base Point Loma found a rare torpedo dating back to the late 1800s off the coast of Coronado, officials announced Monday.

The discovery was made in March by a dolphin named Ten, said Christian Harris, with the Navy’s marine mammal program.

“When the divers got down, they realized the torpedo was completely buried,” said Harris.

The 11-foot brass torpedo called the Howell dates back 130 years. It was inert, meaning it was safe to touch and exhume.  Only 50 of these torpedoes were made, Harris said. The one found in Coronado means only two currently exist.

Eighty Atlantic bottlenose dolphins call the base home along with about 40 California seals.  The Naval base has had the dolphin training program for 50 years.

“These dolphins possess biological sonar which far exceeds the capability humans have yet built,” said Harris.

Harris said every day several dolphins go out to sea to be trained.  They are searching for ocean mines and enemy swimmers along the coast of San Diego.

“When the dolphins are searching, they are riding along the side of the boat,” said Harris.  “When they find something, they touch a point on the side that allows their handlers to know they found something.”

The torpedo will now be sent to Washington D.C. for further analysis.  It’s unclear why the warhead was in San Diego.

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