SEATTLE, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- Animal rights activists are fighting a proposal by the U.S. Navy to use dolphins to patrol the chilly waters of Puget Sound off Washington state.
The Navy has trained 78 dolphins, 27 sea lions and a beluga whale to alert human overseers when they detect a swimmer or diver in their designated security zone, The Los Angeles Times reported Friday.
Opponents say the Sound's water is too cold for dolphins.
Dolphin biologist Toni Frohoff says dolphins lack the physiology to adapt to the colder water temperatures.
"It's just a matter of being humane, or civilized, in acknowledging there's a reason why bottle-nosed dolphins, especially the warm-water Atlantic variety, do not exist in the water here. It's just too darned cold." Frohoff saud at a hearing on the dolphin proposal.
The Navy has proposed warming up the dolphins' holding pens but a representative of Humane Society International said moving the dolphins in and out of heated waters could further compromise their immune systems.