The Phoenix

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Terrorist Assassin Singing Batman Dolphins

No, that's not the name of a new line of toys and animated CGI cartoon series.

It seems dolphins are making the headlines lately, and these are not just ANY ordinary dolphins. These are highly trained and skilled dolphins, mind you. They are trained by animal behaviorists and military experts.

The first story broke in the aftermath of Hurrican Katrina. There were a group of trained dolphins at some military compound near Lake Pontchartrain, Louisianna that apparently escaped. These Atlantic bottlenose dolphins were trained to locate mines, find underwater spies, and utilize toxic dart guns attached to their bodies to shoot terrorists!

The military refused to confirm missing any dolphins...but when a group of dolphins escaped the oceanarium in Mississippi then were captured by the Navy, they weren't released back to the oceanarium until after US Navy scientists examined them. Probably looking for dart gun harnesses maybe? If the dolphins are armed and on the loose, I hope the military finds them quick.

Leo Sheridan, retired government investigator, said, "'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."

In related news, scientists have trained dolphins to sing the Batman T.V. theme song. The preceeding link actually has some sound files of the dolphins singing. This is a significant achievement because it is the very first time any other animal (outside of humans) have showed to be able to produce rhythm vocally. The findings will be presented at Acoustical Society of America and NOISE-CON 2005 next week.

How exactly did the scientists teach dolphins to sing "Na na na na na na na na na na Batmaaaan!"? They used simple reinforcement and association to train the dolphins to vocally reproduce a rhythm. They would play the Batman song using an underwater sound projector to get the dolphins to learn the song. The scientist would show the dolphin a Batman doll, and then would give a fish reward to the dolphin for singing the correct rhythm.

Do you get the feeling that maybe it's the dolphins that are training the scientists to give them more fish?

Although I find it fascinating that another mammal can learn and recreate rhythm vocally, I'm still not sure how this discovery is really important. Fore example, why teach them the Batman theme song? It's a really simple rhythm and melody. Now, if they taught the dolphins to sing the theme song to "Family Ties," I would be impressed. What would we do baby, without us? Sha na na na..."

How on Earth did these scientists even think of such an experiement? Maybe some of them have been inhaling their bunsen burners a little too long. I get the feeling a couple brilliant scientists came up with this research project while sitting around, smoking the wacky-tabbacky, playing Playstation 2, and trying to figure out a way to distract themselves from their overwhelming muchies.

Why can't we train a dolphin to do something useful...Like finding me a parking spot downtown? That would be very practical. How about training a dolphin to put up drywall? Or if you're going to stick with teaching a dolphin something useless, at least make it more entertaining. How about juggling? Sword swallowing? Belly dancing?

So we've got armed, dangerous, escapee dolphins AND singing dolphins in the Gulf region. I hope the singing ones don't get away too. Scientists have been quick to note that dolphins have been observed teaching other dolphins various skills.

If you hear about armed dolphins singing, "Batmaaaaaan," decending on some poor victims and shooting surfer dudes in the ass with toxic darts, at least you'll know how they came to be.

Ouch! Dude, what was that? Ugh...I'm feeling...sleepy.


Blogger DLAK said...

I wonder how much time Osama spends on a surf board. It seams like our defence money is being spent wisely so we can all sleep well tonight.

10/10/2005 2:22 AM  
Blogger KC said...

Damn. Now I've got Batman stuck in my head. You've given me an earworm!

10/10/2005 12:07 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

They should have taught them to sing the Jaws theme song. Then they can creep up on a diver, singing Jaws and them shoot them in the butt.

Wow, I didn't hear about any of this, but now I have to go look it up. Very interesting!

10/10/2005 1:32 PM  
Blogger Grafs said...

I think it's too bad that they are training dolphins to attack. They are usually kind and helpful to humans. A case in point would be the dolphin who used to guide ships through the strait of Gibralter. He would always show up and swim right in front of their bows, guiding them safely through the treacherous waters. One day, a drunken sailor shot at the dolphin. The dolphin never showed up again, much to the distress of hundreds of sailors. As a side-note, the sailor was beaten by his crewmates for his crime. I always think of this story when I think of dolphins.

10/10/2005 5:39 PM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

Dolphins, as a whole, are very intelligent animals. However, they are not innately good animals.

There are plenty of reports about dolphins watching a person drown, playfully teasing the person. Even helping them momentarily and then swimming away.

I think giving dolphins weapons is crazy.

10/10/2005 6:10 PM  
Blogger Ann Alsex said...

Maybe the singing dolphins can be used for a stage show at Seaworld?

10/10/2005 7:57 PM  
Anonymous Mark "The Marketing Professional" Brown said...

Hi Phoenix,

I am looking forward to your Stupid Criminals blog.

Thanks for the second post at "The
Marketing Professional"

As much as we comment on each others blogs would you consider
swapping links?


10/10/2005 8:11 PM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

Sure, no problem.

The more links the better.

10/10/2005 9:22 PM  
Blogger ObilonKenobi said...

What a cool story! I had heard of scientists teaching dolphins to search for underwater objects like mines but to shoot darts and sing the Batman theme song? That's brilliant on the level of Dr. No or Dr. EVIL!!! I mean let's just strap laser beams to their heads. I don't know where you get these stories but keep 'em coming. And if you've read any of the Hitchiker's Guide To The Galaxy Books then it's even funnier! So long and thanks for all the fish.

10/10/2005 9:45 PM  
Blogger David Amulet said...

Hey Kenobi, don't believe everything you read ... heheheh

Great post; you just keep 'em coming. A laugh a day (or close to that).

-- d.a.

10/11/2005 4:05 PM  
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Welcome to the blog that aims to examine the lighter side of science. From the paranormal to wacky inventions, to strange mysteries and goofy experiments, I cover it all. Thanks for stoping by science is always stranger than fiction


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