Thank you for writing to us! Although we receive hundreds of e-mails every day, we really and truly read them all, and your comments, suggestions, and questions are most welcome. Unfortunately, we can manage to answer only a small fraction of our incoming mail.
Our site covers many of the items currently being plopped into inboxes everywhere, so if you were writing to ask us about something you just received, our search engine can probably help you find the very article you want.
Choose a few key words from the item you're looking for and click here to go to the search engine.
(Searching on whole phrases will often fail to produce matches because the text of many items is quite variable, so picking out one or two key words is the best strategy.)
We do reserve the right to use non-confidential material sent to us via this form on our site, but only after it has been stripped of any information that might identify the sender or any other individuals not party to this communication.
Claim: Dolphins trained by the U.S. Navy to hunt terrorists were washed out to sea by Hurricane Katrina and are now missing.
Example:[The Observer, 2005]
It may be the oddest tale to emerge from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Armed dolphins, trained by the US military to shoot terrorists and pinpoint spies underwater, may be missing in the Gulf of Mexico.
Experts who have studied the US navy's cetacean training exercises claim the 36 mammals could be carrying 'toxic dart' guns. Divers and surfers risk attack, they claim, from a species considered to be among the planet's smartest. The US navy admits it has been training dolphins for military purposes, but has refused to confirm that any are missing.
Origins: The winner for "Most bizarre rumor to come out of Hurricane Katrina" so far is the above-cited Observer report that a group of killer dolphins armed with "toxic dart" guns, and trained by the U.S. Navy to track down and immobilize spies and terrorists, was washed out to sea in the Gulf of Mexico by the storm. The cetaceans are now missing and presumed to be armed and dangerous, at least according to rumor.
The Observer article quotes a "respected accident investigator," Leo Sheridan, who maintains that the killer dolphins now supposedly on the loose pose a serious threat to innocent lives:
My concern is that they have learnt to shoot at divers in wetsuits who have simulated terrorists in exercises. If divers or windsurfers are mistaken for a spy or suicide bomber and if equipped with special harnesses carrying toxic darts, they could fire,' he said. 'The darts are designed to put the target to sleep so they can be interrogated later, but what happens if the victim is not found for hours?'
The sole source for this story seems to be the above-mentioned Mr. Sheridan, whose validity as an information source is dubious at best.
Sheridan reported that he believed his private team of divers had located the airplane flown by Amy Taylor (an aviation pioneer who was killed when Airspeed Oxford she was flying from Scotland to Oxfordshire on went down in the Thames Estuary on 5 January 1941), but no more has been heard about the elusive airplane since then. Sheridan has also long been beating the drums about the U.S. Navy's having a secret team of dolphins trained "to recognize and drown enemy divers," claiming in another Observerarticle back in 1998 that sixteen of the animals were destroyed with small explosive charges planted in harnesses on the undersides of their necks and detonated via radio signals "in order to prevent the dolphins and the Navy's technology from falling into the wrong hands" when they got loose off the coast of the French
The U.S. Navy does employ trained dolphins for tasks such as detecting and marking mines, but even such intelligent creatures as dolphins aren't too good at the advanced tasks of distinguishing friend from foe or ordinary scuba divers from terrorists. Killer dolphins are likely to be found only in the realm of fiction and overactive imaginations.
Last updated: 27 September 2005
Houston, Mark Townsend. "Armed and Dangerous — Flipper the Firing Dolphin Let Loose by Katrina."