Ukraine Claims ‘Loyal’ Military Dolphins Starved Themselves Rather Than Be Under Russian Control

Better dead than red? According to Ukrainian officials, that’s a choice that their fiercely loyal military dolphins faced in 2014, when Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula and took the dolphins into custody.

The Ukrainian story would have you believe that even though the Russians in Crimea had the proper command whistles for the dolphins, they were so despondent to be taken by Russians they all went on a hunger strike, and starved to death en masse.

Russia’s story is quite a bit different, noting that the dolphins had been “demilitarized” long ago and didn’t care who was feeding them. They say the dolphins were sold off to commercial interests almost immediately, and aren’t in Crimea anymore.

Both the US and Soviet Union engaged in the training of military dolphins during the Cold War, and the Crimea dolphins were what was left of the Soviet program. A US facility for dolphins is still operated in San Diego, now the last site of militarized dolphins in the world.

That the dolphins went from Soviets to Ukrainians to Russians to private industry dolphins was almost certainly lost on them. Ukraine’s story seems designed both to portray the dolphins as fiercely loyal to the military oath, and Russia as so uniquely evil that even dolphins could sense it, and rebelled instinctively. There’s no good evidence for either, of course.