NRaD TD 627
Revision C
February 1992
Naval Command, Control and Ocean Surveillance Center
Research, Development, Test and Evaluation Division
San Diego, CA 92152-5000 

Annotated Bibliography of Publications from the U.S. Navy's Marine Mammal Program

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    Brief History of the Navy's Marine Mammal Program
    Physiology/Anatomy/Growth and Aging
    Health Care/Nutrition/Pathology
    Open Sea Release


The Navy's Marine Mammal Program, originally a cooperative effort of the Naval Ordnance Test Station and the Navy Missile Center, is now conducted by the Naval Command, Control and Ocean Surveillance Center, Research, Development, Test and Evaluation Division (formerly Naval Ocean Systems Center), at San Diego, California, and Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. For a brief history of the program, see p. iii.

This publication provides an updated bibliography of the Navy's Marine Mammal Program. This update contains works published before 30 November 1991. Some 164 publications are added to Revision B, published in November 1987 (Naval Ocean Systems Center Technical Document 627, Revision B). For a bibliography of literature published prior to 1963, see Squire, 1964 in the Miscellaneous section of this document.

This revision, like previous revisions, is organized into subject areas. The Miscellaneous subject area contains publications about general topics, evolution, taxonomy, conservation, and history of the Marine Mammal Program. Each publication is cited once; cross-referencing between subject areas is not provided.

Entries in this bibliography include publications by contractors and by other non-Navy researchers whose materials or facilities were provided by the Navy.

In-house publications are identified by the acronyms NOTS (Naval Ordnance Test Station), NUC (Naval Undersea Center), NSWC (Naval Surface Weapons Center), and NOSC (Naval Ocean Systems Center). These publications consist of TPs (Technical Publications), TRs (Technical Reports), and TDs (Technical Documents).

The majority of the papers listed were published in established technical journals, books, or in proceedings of significant conferences where Navy efforts were reported and which are available at libraries or through interlibrary loan. Copies of the in-house publications can be obtained from the National Technical Information Service, Springfield, VA 22161; the cost varies according to the size of the document. In the case Of some conference presentations, abstracts can be obtained from the authors through the Public Affairs Office of the Naval Command, Control and Ocean Surveillance Center, Research, Development, Test and Evaluation Division (NRaD), San Diego, CA 92152-5000.


The Navy's Marine Mammal Program had its origin in the acquisition, in 1960, of a Pacific white-sided dolphin for hydrodynamic studies. Scientists of the Naval Ordnance Test Station (NOTS) at China Lake and Pasadena, California, had heard accounts of the hydrodynamic efficiency of porpoises. Since NOTS was in the business of (among other things) designing and developing torpedoes, it seemed reasonable to find out whether porpoises did in fact have special characteristics that might be applied to the design of the underwater missiles.

Work with the white-sided dolphin, named Notty, revealed no unusual physiological or hydrodynamic capabilities, but it was suspected that conditions in the long testing tank in which she swam might have affected her performance. The NOTS scientists and engineers wanted to continue their investigation of porpoises, and looked about for an appropriate site at which to establish a small research facility.

They found such a site at Point Mugu, California, where the Pacific Missile Range and Naval Missile Center were located. By coincidence, a group in the Life Sciences Department of the Naval Missile Center was also proposing to undertake studies of marine life, including porpoises. Mugu Lagoon, the last such body of protected water on the Southern California coast, was seen as a great asset for such work.

As a result of these mutual interests, and with encouragement from the Office of Naval Research, a modest facility for research and exploratory development gradually evolved on a sand spit between the lagoon and the ocean at Point Mugu. The program got underway in 1963. Primary interest was in marine mammals-the study of their specially developed senses and systems, such as sonar and deep-diving physiology--and also how porpoises and sea lions might be used to perform useful tasks. A major accomplishment was the demonstration that trained porpoises and sea lions could be worked untethered in the open sea with great reliability. In 1965, a Navy bottlenosed dolphin named Tuffy participated in the Sea Lab II project off La Jolla, California, carrying tools and messages between the surface and aquanauts operating out of the habitat 200 feet below.

In 1967, the Point Mugu facility and its personnel, both of NOTS and the Naval Missile Center, were placed under a newly formed organization which was to become the Naval Undersea Center (NUC), with headquarters in San Diego. Following the formation of the Center, a NUC laboratory was established in Hawaii at the Marine Corps Air Station on Kaneohe Bay. Some of the personnel and animals at Point Mugu transferred to the Hawaii laboratory, and later the rest of the Point Mugu operation moved to San Diego.

In March 1977, the Naval Undersea Center was combined with the nearby Naval Electronics Laboratory Center to form the Naval Ocean Systems Center (NOSC). In January 1992, NOSC became the Naval Command, Control and Ocean Surveillance Center; Research, Development, Test and Evaluation Division (NRaD). The ongoing marine mammal research and development work of the San Diego and Hawaii laboratories continues as an important part of NRaD's total effort.

This has included further studies of the capabilities of marine mammals; developing improved techniques for diagnosis and treatment of health problems; neurophysiological studies, using behavioral and other noninvasive techniques, to gain a better understanding of how the large dolphin brain functions; developing instrumentation to determine, by brain wave activity, the hearing range of a cetacean; and investigating how dolphins produce the sounds they make.

Marine mammal work at the Hawaii and San Diego sites has also been concerned with dolphin behavior, reproductive physiology, echolocation, and potential for performing useful tasks more efficiently, safely, or economically than human divers or submersibles. One project, originally called "Quick Find" and now called the Mark 5 Marine Mammal System (MMS), employs sea lions to locate and attach recovery hardware to inert. instrumented test ordnance, which is fired or dropped into the ocean. Traditional recovery involved human divers, who are handicapped by limited submergence times, poor visibility at depths, water currents, and extensive requirements for medical and surface support. The Mk 5 MMS eliminates this complex and potentially dangerous recovery approach. The system consists simply of a rubber boat, a sea lion, and two or three handlers. When the boat arrives at the recovery site, the sea lion is sent over the side. Trained to detect an acoustic beacon placed in the inert ordnance before the test, the sea lion indicates that he hears the beacon and accepts a bite plate to which an attachment device is mounted. A strong line tied to this device is payed out from the boat as the sea lion swims to the object and attaches the recovery device to it. The sea lion then releases the bite plate and returns to the boat for a well-deserved reward of fish while a crane is used to pull the ordnance to the surface. The Mk 5 MMS has a recovery capability to a depth of 650 feet; the system became operational in 1975 and has been in service use since then.

In a similar project, called Deep Ops, a pilot whale and two killer whales demonstrated their ability to recover objects from greater depths. The recovery device the whales attached to the target object (a dummy torpedo containing an acoustic beacon) incorporated a hydrazine gas generator that was activated upon attachment of the device to the torpedo. The generated gas filled a large lift bag, which raised the torpedo to the surface. Using this device, the pilot whale successfully recovered the torpedo from a depth of 1654 feet. Although much was learned from the Deep Ops project, work with pilot and killer whales, the largest of the dolphins, has not been continued.

The capabilities of belugas, or white whales, have been investigated at the NRaD San Diego and Hawaii facilities, San Clemente Island, and torpedo test ranges in Seattle and Canada. Although belugas are inshore and estuarine animals which enter rivers for calving and feeding, they were found capable of diving to at least 2100 feet. In tests to determine their ability to recover inert experimental torpedoes that have ended up at the bottom of a test range, the belugas attached the recovery device to a dummy torpedo at 1300 feet, the maximum depth available.

Research on dolphin hydrodynamics was continued, with the same goal of the original work: to determine if the dolphin does indeed possess drag-reducing characteristics that can be applied to underwater hardware. The capabilities for undertaking this work are now greatly improved and include instrumentation for measurements that previously were impossible. Among the possible drag-reducing mechanisms being studied are skin compliance, biopolymer secretions, and boundary layer heating, which may work synergistically and in combination with other drag-reducing processes.

Other research is using sophisticated psychophysical experiments to determine how dolphins process target echoes to make difficult detections and fine discriminations. This information can be modeled and built as an "expert computer system" to aid human sonar operators in identifying targets from clutter.

This Annotated Bibliography of Publications from the Navy Marine Mammal Program provides an indication of the range and scope of projects undertaken since the beginning of the program in 1963.

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