Images Suggest North Korea Might Be Training Dolphins for Military Purposes

New satellite imagery suggests that North Korea might be training dolphins for a Naval Marine Mammal Program similar to America's own program.

dolphin north korea

Image via Getty/DEA/W. Buss

dolphin north korea

New satellite imagery suggests that North Korea might be training dolphins for military purposes.

The United States Naval Institute reports that the newly released satellite imagery, which was acquired through ShadowBreak Intl, features what could be dolphin pens. The evidence points toward such a program existing as far back as Oct. 2015, with one such site near a naval base in Nampo, a port city on the west coast of the country. Kim Jong Un has continued to expand the country's military capability from when he was first named the Supreme Leader of North Korea in 2011. 

The United States Navy launched its Marine Mammal Program in 1960, and until recently it was believed that only one other country had replicated such a program. The Russian Navy followed suit with bases in the Arctic and Black Sea, but now it's believed there could be three countries training and breeding military dolphins. 

Marine mammal military programs often train the dolphins to help locate objects, such as mines. The United States Navy's program was highly controversial due to obvious animal welfare concerns, and for the most part it has been highly-guarded and secretive.

There is the possibility that the suspected marine mammal pens could be a fish farm of sorts, but the imagery isn't similar to other fish farms seen across the country. The size of the pens also suggest that they would be used for bottlenose dolphins, with ones used by the Russian and American navies used for reference. Kim Jong-un notably launched a dolphinarium in the capital city of Pyongyang in 2012, which could hint that the country uses the same dolphins for both military and entertainment purposes.

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