A Dolphin Was Once Used To Assist the Navy With Underwater Tasks



SEALAB II was one of three experiments conducted in the 1960s to test the physiological effects of prolonged underwater living on humans. Three teams of 10 aquanauts descended down 210 feet into the La Jolla Canyon off the coast of California and remained at the station for 15-day intervals. The most interesting part of the experiment was the work done by a bottlenose dolphin named Tuffy. He was trained as part of the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program, which trains marine mammals like dolphins and sea lions to assist in tasks such as mine hunting, sentry duties in harbors, and object recovery. Tuffy’s specific mission was to carry tools to the divers working outside of SEALAB II and bring mail to the aquanauts inside the station. Yes, Tuffy was the first porpoise postal worker. He also contributed to the Marine Mammal Program as a whole, as the training methods tested on the dolphin were later utilized in training dolphins for other aquatic missions. Unfortunately for Tuffy’s growing postal career, he would never participate in SEALAB III as intended, due to the supposed sabotage of that mission. Maybe one day, if humanity does decide to live long-term beneath the waves, we will all get to post our letters via porpoise.