The Bugler

Bugler Newsletter

Dolphin & Sea Lion Defense

Dolphins and sea lions defending our coastlines? It's not science fiction! Read on ...

Dolphins have been declared the world's second most intelligent creatures after humans. Utilizing their blowholes, air sacks and valves, dolphins can emit a very wide variety of sounds - and the frequency levels range 10 times beyond what humans can hear! This system is called "echolocation" or "sonar" - similar to what a submarine uses to navigate while underwater. Yet dolphin sonar is much more advanced than human technology and can pinpoint exact information about its surroundings ranging from size, distance and even the nature of the object. Some scientists have suggested that dolphins are so bright they should be treated as "non-human persons"! Others rate them at the level of elephants in "intelligence" tests and note they haven't shown any unusual talent at problem solving. Nevertheless, dolphins are succeeding at being underwater "special agents" and that makes them important to the U.S. Navy and to our nation's defense.

Sea lions identify objects using sight and sound. They can see in almost total darkness and have vision that is five times better underwater than that of humans. They also have excellent directional hearing, which means they can find divers and moving objects based on the sounds they make.

For decades, the U.S. Navy has capitalized on the superior sensory skills of the dolphins for long-range work and the diving abilities of sea lions by using them to locate underwater mines and hostile divers. Training takes about four years per animal.

In May of this year, the specially trained Navy marine mammals, based in San Diego, gave remarkable demonstrations while participating in Golden Guardian, an annual homeland security and disaster preparedness program in California that started in 2004. As part of these maneuvers, anti-terrorism training exercises were held at ports throughout the state. The drills included a fake attack on a container ship, a bomb explosion and terrorist attacks in waters off major cities. California has 11 ports that handle 60% of the nation's container shipping traffic. "Security is of vital importance," according to Tom LaPuzza, a spokesman for the Navy Marine Mammals program. "And humans are very slow in the water. Sea lions can see five times as well. And dolphins can use their sonar to spot items that would take humans days or weeks to find."

A team demonstrated how dolphins can find suspects trying to plant objects underwater. They released a dolphin several hundred meters away from two divers who were swimming near a pier as if they were going to plant an explosive. Within a few minutes, the dolphin had located the divers and returned to the boat to alert crew members of the find. The divers then gave the dolphin a buoy, which it used to mark the general location of the divers. The crew steered the boat to the general vicinity and released a sea lion equipped with ankle cuffs tied to a string; the sea lions are trained to cuff a saboteur's ankle. Officials try to keep the suspects alive to gather intelligence information. Usually the swimmers have been found and cuffed before they know what's happening, particularly in murky water. Once the suspects have been cuffed, local police would normally retrieve them from the water and arrest them.

Some critics of the program regard such training as immoral, unnatural and cruel, but these "special agents" can provide valuable help in our nation's defense, and the Navy claims there is no need to be concerned about the safety of the mammals. The dolphins and sea lions are trained to locate devices that are typically planted to destroy ships. Such mines are only detonated by massive weight and pressure and are designed so waves and curious animals don't trigger an explosion, which is why the dolphins and sea lions can safely tag them. They are trained with the same successive approximation technique a police dog trainer would use - a series of small steps and sequences with positive reinforcement along the way. None of the mammals have been harmed in anti-terrorist work. They never have to carry potentially catastrophic mines, only find the devices and place markers before Navy divers retrieve and defuse them.

The Navy has been using these mammals for security and bomb detection since the Vietnam War era. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, the dolphins and sea lions helped disarm more than 100 mines planted in an Iraqi port. Special agents, indeed!

2010 - 2011 Catalog Corrections

Wish we didn't have to make these corrections but, we do - with sincere apologies!

Page 3: Photo of Atlanta Police Color Guard was "flipped" by catalog designer causing the flag order and uniforms to be incorrect.

Page 5: Large photo of the DrillAmerica Rifle was "flipped" by catalog designer causing the bolt handle to appear on the wrong side of the rifle. It is actually on the right for right- handed operation.

Page 19: The sizes for the #1070 and #1078 Gloves should read: S-M and L-XL.

Page 24: Military Boot Insoles - Small: Women's size should read: 7-9O.

Page 41: We have discontinued our police mourning bands and circle and bar pins with the two black stripes and a center blue line. The plain black mourning bands are still available.

Page 52: #1990MM Merchant Marine Coin has been discontinued by manufacturer.

Page 59: ROTC Rank Insignia MAJ: Single Diamond, Black Metal. The correct SKU is #2808 at $4.50 pair.

Page 65: #742 pricing error - It should be $3.50 each (not $1.50).

Page 69: #H26 pricing error - It should be $8.60 each (of course not $860.00!)

Page 75: #E9133BRNZ Eagle Medal has been discontinued by manufacturer.

Page 87: The #2209 Black Plastic Sleeve Insert for Commodore, Liberty, or Freedom floor stands was inadvertently dropped from the Flag Accessories list. It is still available at $2.25 each.

New Products on the Web

Some products arrived (or were "discovered") too late for the catalog. As more become available until our next catalog goes to press in 2011, you can find them at under "...What's New on the Web." Here's what's new now:

ShirtLock™: an alternative to shirt stays and rubber and flex belts for keeping your shirt tucked into your pants.

History of the American Civil War Poster: includes over 50 dates and battles

Mid-Length Wally Garment Bags, plain and embroidered: a longer and wider bag, this one with a side zipper, and still with the reliable Wally Lock® system for holding hangers in place.

Glendale and

Glendale outfits honor guards, color guards, and drill units. Visit our site for the best in parade and drill equipment and for uniform accessories at

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