U.S. Navy officials revealed on Monday that mine-hunting dolphins helped them discover a relic from the service’s past — a 130-year-old torpedo, found off the coast of San Diego, California.
U-T San Diego reported that the dolphins discovered the weapon, known as a Howell torpedo, during a Navy Marine Mammal Program training exercise in March near Coronado.
Officials with the Space and Navy Warfare Systems Center (SSC) Pacific told KFMB-TV the torpedoes, developed between 1870 and 1889, were among the first to use self-propulsion, via a 132-pound flywheel that was spun to 10,000 rpm before being launched.
“There were only 50 Howell torpedoes made,” SSC Pacific Biosciences operations supervisor Braden Duryee said to KFMB. “we discovered one of the two ever found.”
The 11-foot-long weapons, which had a range of 400 yards and a warhead packed with 100 pounds of gun cotton, were so old that Duryee and his team had to use Google to gather more information.
“(The dolphins) are very good at finding things, and we find some off things,” Duryee told U-T San Diego. “But it was just one of those days where the animals found it. It was kind of in our way.”
SSC Pacific also said the two dolphins who made the find, Ten and Spentz, were well compensated with an extra helping of fish for their efforts.
Watch KFMB’s report on the discovery of the early-model torpedo, aired Monday, below.
[Image: “Two Dolphins Swim In The Pool” via Shutterstock]