Unusual deaths of dolphins discovered near Naval Base Point Loma

SAN DIEGO – An animal rights group obtained reports from the Navy that could indicate potential animal abuse or harmful testing being done in the military program.

“This is a little dirty secret in San Diego hiding in plain sight,”

Just off Harbor Drive, down the street from Lindbergh Field, is the place on the property of Naval Base Point Loma that we’re talking about.  To many of us, it looks like a bunch of boat docks, but these are more than docks…they’re water pens for dolphins and sea lions.

“This program is obsolete, it’s 30 years forward,” Ellen Erickson said.

Ellen Erickson is an animal activist and is talking about the U.S. Navy’s Marine Mammal Program.  The Navy has told us in the past, the program uses trained dolphins and sea lions to locate underwater mines and submarines.

“We have robotics now, that’s much more efficient that the Navy could use,” Erickson adds.

The Marine Mammal Conservancy and an animal advocate group out of Florida obtained a report from the Navy through freedom of information requests.  The list consists of animals who have died while participating in the mammal program and there are patterns in the dolphin’s deaths.

“The most bizarre and baffling one is that some of them have drowned,” Erickson adds.

Out of nearly 60 deaths listed in the report since the mid-70’s, 13 of them are confirmed by the Navy.

“It can’t be easy to drown a dolphin and it’s pretty alarming to see that the Navy has done it multiple times,” Jane Cartmill said.

Besides drowning, other dolphin deaths have been ruled as toxic shock and heat exhaustion.

“I don’t know, we are given all the facts and I think the federal report really speaks for itself and when you see all these bizarre injuries and these deaths,” Cartmill adds.

Besides the training of finding mines and submarines, these dolphins are also used for other testing too.

“The Salk Institute actually is using these dolphins for diabetes testing too,” Erickson said.

We reached out to the Salk Institute and the U.S. Navy for comment and did not receive a call back.

“They’re doing animal research on these animals which is another form of animal cruelty,” Erickson said.

“Speaking out against captivity at Sea World, take a look here and you’re seeing something actually worse,” Cartmill adds.

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