The Museum of Hoaxes
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Jennifer Love Hewitt's Disappearing Breasts
Pierre Brassau, Monkey Artist, 1964
The Nobody For President Campaign, 1940 to Present
Brief History of Triple-Decker Buses
Can a bar of soap between your sheets ease muscle cramps?
What do the lines on Solo cups mean?
Monkeys pick cotton, a 19th-century urban legend
The Great Electric Sugar Swindle, 1884
BMW's April Fool's Day Hoaxes
The Great New York Zoo Escape Hoax, 1874
Killer Dolphins Set Loose by Katrina
Status: Highly Doubtful
I've received a lot of emails about a story in The Observer a few days ago alleging that thirty-six dolphins "trained by the US military to shoot terrorists and pinpoint spies underwater" and "carrying 'toxic dart' guns" were swept out of their tanks by Hurricane Katrina and are now at large in the Gulf of Mexico. This story is very doubtful for a number of reasons.

First, it seems to be a wild rumor inspired by the true report that eight bottlenose dolphins were washed out of their marina by Katrina, but were later recovered. Second, The Observer's story relies entirely upon one source, a "respected accident investigator" named Leo Sheridan. But as The Register points out, Mr. Sheridan has been the source for many dubious conspiracy-style claims in the past.

In 2003 he told The Guardian that he didn't believe the official explanation that the English aviator Amy Johnson's plane crashed in 1941 because it ran out of fuel. He believed she had been shot down.

In 1998 he told the Observer the cause of death of 22 dolphins found washed up on the shore in southern France was that "'these were dolphins trained by the US navy, and that something went badly wrong... They were disposed of to conceal the existence of the American's military dolphin programme.' According to Mr Sheridan, the United States navy launched a classified programme, the Cetacean Intelligence Mission, in San Diego in 1989 with the approval of President George Bush. The dolphins, fitted with harnesses around their necks and with small electrodes planted under their skin, were taught first to patrol and protect Trident submarines in harbour and stationary warships at sea."

And in 1991 The Observer used him as the source for a story about crop circles: "Britain's crop circles are caused by squabbling birds marking out their feeding territory, says environmental investigator Leo Sheridan. 'Each morning birds that feed off the crops, such as starlings and sparrows, squabble over their patch of field,' he says. 'The birds sometimes two or three hundred of them whirl round in circles close to the top of the crops, flattening them with the action of their wings as they fight each other for a patch of field.' Mr Sheridan, who is employed by aviation authorities to investigate atmospheric and environmental influences on air disasters, claims he has witnessed the phenomenon in Devon and Cornwall."

In other words, Leo Sheridan is The Observer's resident crackpot-on-call. They must phone him up whenever they want to add a bit of drama or weirdness to their stories.

Further discrediting the story is the US Navy's insistence that it has never trained dolphins for attack missions. The dolphins are only trained to locate suspicious objects. Not to destroy them.
Categories: Animals, Conspiracy Theories, Military
Posted by The Curator on Wed Sep 28, 2005
Comments (15)
Mr Sheridan is the kind of guy that would be fun to get drunk with for a few laughs....
Posted by X  in  McKinney, TX  on  Wed Sep 28, 2005  at  11:44 AM
I seem to remember a movie called Day of the Dolphin (George C. Scott, I think was in it), in which this same thing happened (trained dolphins, etc.).

Apparently someone else thought of the connection too and came up with this story.
Posted by Nigel  on  Wed Sep 28, 2005  at  12:13 PM
The "information" is getting around, Jay Leno used it in his show last night. Scuba divers beware!
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Wed Sep 28, 2005  at  02:00 PM
jeeze, first it was sharks with laser beams on their heads now its dolphins with toxic dart guns.

Whats next? Penguins with rockets on their backs?

ok, so the sharks with laser beans and the penguins with rockets were from Austin Powers and Batman respectively but hey, those dolphins might be real LOL
Posted by Chuck  in  Rhode Island  on  Wed Sep 28, 2005  at  03:51 PM
I just got back from three weeks working hurricane relief in Gulfport MS. My Coast Guard reserve unit was actually assigned to help out with the search for the oceanarium dolphins that were washed out in the storm surge. It's true that eight dolphins were recovered, and it's true that they were taken to the US Navy Construction Battalion Center for safekeeping after they were recovered. Other than that, the article is complete BS. I hope... The idea that I could have been out there the whole time being stalked by killer dolphins... I don't think I'm going to be able to sleep tonight.
Posted by sombrero11  in  Cleveland, OH  on  Wed Sep 28, 2005  at  04:40 PM
Oh yeah, right... like the U.S. Navy is a more reliable source than the man that solved the mystery of crop circles...

As a matter of fact, Leo Sheridan seems to be such an expert in so many things, I'd bet he even trained birds to make the more elaborate designs himself.

He probably helped get the toxic dart guns for the dolphins, so he'd definitely be in the know...
Posted by hcmomof4  on  Thu Sep 29, 2005  at  01:55 AM
The Navy denies this, so it's obviously a fake. Yeah, right, 'cause the military has never lied to us or withheld information. BWAHAHAHA!
Posted by eovti  in  Sandefjord, Norway  on  Thu Sep 29, 2005  at  05:15 AM
Bizarre. The search results on this guy are strange.
Posted by 8EΞ≡  on  Thu Sep 29, 2005  at  10:10 AM
As a matter of fact, the Navy did have an experimental program to train attack dolphins (this was a good many years ago), but it was scrapped because the dophins with bombs strapped to them had an unpleasant tendency to swim back to the mother ship that was launcing them.
Posted by Big Gary in Dallas  in  Dallas, Texas, USA  on  Sun Oct 02, 2005  at  02:32 PM
I don't know if this Katrina story is true, but Navy Intelligence did have an attack dolphin program back in Viet Nam. My dad's friend worked on the program, and the dolphins were to patrol harbor installations and attack Viet Cong frogmen. The CIA showed up and wanted them to try fitting the dolphins with nose mounted syringes full of drugs that they could jab the guys with an disable then for capture. However, my dad's friend said it never worked. Perhaps this old truth has been recycled into a new story.
Posted by Chris  in  California  on  Mon Oct 03, 2005  at  12:14 PM
That reminds me of the video game, Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future. There was a level called Man's Nightmare, and Ecco went around wearing a harness made by humans that allowed him to control machines.
Posted by Sakano  in  Ohio  on  Mon Oct 03, 2005  at  03:51 PM
The story of the dolphins being swept out of the marina (Marine Life Oceanarium) IS true. I can tell you that with 100% confidence because I live just 15 miles away from that facility. Marine Life Oceanarium is basically Biloxi, MS's scaled down Seaworld, if you will. The tidal surge from the storm swept them out to sea, but they returned. The story of the sealions of that facility is, however, not as happy...

As for military dolphins, I think that's just a load of crap somebody made up to try and make the real incident sound more interesting than it was.
Posted by Rachel  on  Tue Jan 10, 2006  at  12:20 PM
Above poster is correct. The dolphins were trained show animals from "Marine Life Oceanarium" in Gulfport. They were washed out of their holding tank on the edge of the gulf. They all stayed within a mile of the facility and were almost all located together. I work about a mile from where the facility stood.
Posted by Scott  in  Gulfport, MS  on  Thu Feb 09, 2006  at  03:46 PM
There are spy dolphins and im not suprised by Garys story but it is horrible.These military anti-terrorist dolphins are obviously stupid made up stuff.
Posted by J  on  Mon Oct 02, 2006  at  12:54 PM
first off the dolphins work for the c.i.a. and have done so since 1964 when they were sent to vietnam they will not kill just any person they need a weapon and we dont hand out weapons like we hand out b.s. so maybe some of this is true but i know for a fact that these dolphins do many jobs to dangerouus for man to do and i also know they have save as many more lives than they have ever taken b.t.w. its all top secret level 2 and i worked with them for 5 years they can do so much good as to what they can do also they have saved many u.s.navy ships all the way back to vietnam also we have never lost a dolphin on any combat mission,,,,,,,,,,,,,,dusty 326cmed
Posted by dusty  in  texas  on  Sat May 31, 2008  at  12:36 AM
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