Animals have been used as warnings, weapons and spies for a really long time. Now, marine organisms are going to be used as sensors. Since 1960s, US Navy has been training dolphins for rescuing lost swimmers and detecting mines. Similarly, Russia is also doing the same, along with pigeons, rats and sharks being used for eavesdropping.
US Darpa (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) has a latest project which focuses on enhancing their military intelligence by using aquatic creatures as warning systems. The program manager of Persistent Aquatic Living Sensors, Dr. Lori Adornato said that they are figuring out how these organisms can help in identifying the movement and presence of several types of underwater vehicles. Some animals emit a glowing light when they are disturbed. This bioluminescent trail will enable to see the underwater vehicle present near the surface and an organism on the ocean’s surface.
Laurent Cherubin, Principal investigator, Florida Atlantic University said that they just want to observe underwater organisms that they can detect any change in their behavior if any foreign vehicle, weapon or object comes in their area.
The project is studying shrimps, sea bass, Goliath groupers and the sequence of changes in their behavior or the sounds they make, with any disturbance in their area. According to Alison Laferriere from Raytheon BBN Technologies, the main elements of the research involve monitoring the soundscape. It is seen that many fish species make sounds when they feel the threat. She also added that the fishes might show a change in behavior during the presence of a vehicle in their surroundings. This changed behavior can be detected.
The research does not rely completely on the behavioral change of the organisms and just uses the sounds they make. It is essential as you wouldn’t want your detecting system to make any noise that can be detected or disturb the sensors. She adds that it would be a quiet system with low-power and would be able to detect quite vehicles.
It is a much economical way to detect the foreign objects under the water.