On of the all time great, ROTFL, completely over-the-top ridiculous movies is The Day of the Dolphin, starring George C. Scott. I can't recall the full plot line, but George C. is a researcher who's trying to teach dolphins, Alpha (Fa) and Beta (Bee), to speak. Speak English that is. (I believe that dolphins already chatter away in some sort of language or another. Dolphinese?) Meanwhile, some no-good-nik is trying to train Fa and Bee for a nefarious purpose that involves strapping a mine to Bee and having her swim under a ship and blow it up.
When George C. gets wind of the bad guys turning Bee into a suicide bomber, he sends Fa off to warn Bee off, explaining to Fa that "the ball on Bee's back is bad."
The movie also has a romantic moment of sorts - a bit of touching male bonding (or is in inter-species bonding) - when Fa tells George C.,"Fa love Pa."
Anyway, I thought of this movie yesterday when I saw The Lede, the The NY Times blog, which featured an interesting piece on a story reported by Xinhua, China's official news agency. Xinhua claims that a school of dolphins recently thwarted a Somali pirate attack on Chinese freighters. The Times blog points out that the photos don't exactly show any Somali pirate boats being held at bay by Flipper et al. Nonetheless, with the current grim news of Piracy in the Gulf of Aden, it's refreshing to have a little feel good story.
Of course, I do have to ask myself how the dolphins knew that the Somali pirates were the bad guys and the Chinese merchant marines, and the Chinese navy that was escorting them, were the good guys. (Having an inquiring mind can sure be irksome.)
The Lede went on to mention a 1980's US Navy program spent millions of dollars attempting to train dolphins and sea lions to guard a nuclear sub base. The Lede said that program was abandoned, but there appears to be some ongoing military action, at least according the folks at Spawar, which has a quasi-official looking site dedicated to the US Naval Marine Military Program. According to the site, dolphins saw action in the Iraq war.
The Lede also noted a rumor that dolphins armed (flippered?) with poison dart guns escaped their holding area in Lake Pontchartrain during Hurricane Katrina, and posed a danger to swimmers. The Navy claims that they accounted for all the Louisiana dolphins, which is no doubt good news to those enjoying the Gulf Coast waters.
But dolphins equipped with poison dart guns - now there's a thought. I guess it's not just the ball on Bee's back that could be bad.