Project Deep Ops: Deep Object Recovery with Pilot and Killer Whales
Project summary rept. Aug 1969-Nov 1971
NAVAL UNDERSEA CENTER SAN DIEGO CA
Pagination or Media Count:
Two species of whales, killer whales Orcinus orca and pilot whales Globicephala scammoni, were conditioned to locate and mark for recovery pingered cylindrical objects in the open ocean. The animals were conditioned to boat-follow, wear harnesses with radio backpacks, and deploy mouth-carried recovery hardware. An automatic direction-finding radio tracking system, originally developed for studies of wild marine mammals, was adopted and transformed to a system which is practical and reliable for day-to-day use with trained whales in the open ocean. The killer whales dived to maximum depths of 850 feet and 500 feet to deploy practice grabbers. The pilot whale deployed a practice grabber at a depth of 1654 feet and on one occasion apparently made a volunteered dive without practice grabber to a depth of 2000 feet. Float-line recovery devices proved ineffectual, leading to the development of a hydrazine lift system, which was fitted to the operational Grabber and is capable of lifting 600 pounds from 1000 feet. The pilot whale aided in the recovery of a dummy Mk 46 torpedo from 500 feet with this device, and during an earlier training session depolyed the hydrazine system on the same target at a 1000-foot depth.