The Air Force’s 301st Airlift Squadron transported some precious Navy cargo, four Bottlenose dolphin and their trainers from Naval Air Station Key West, Florida, to the U.S. Naval Marine Mammal Program in San Diego, California.
“The dolphins need to be challenged and get experience in different waters,” said Brit Swenberg, an NMMP biological technician. “It also gets them used to traveling and working out of deployable vehicles.”
Army Capt. Drew Henschen, a NMMP veterinarian, checked the dolphins throughout the flight to ensure no issues developed with them. Henschen explained the marine mammal team came with a full vet clinic to tend to the dolphins’ well-being. The team was capable of performing ultrasounds, X-rays and endoscopies, if needed.
“They are expensive assets for the Navy and take a long time to train,” said Henschen. “We make sure the dolphins are well taken care of and maintain their health. They can only do their jobs to the best of their abilities, same as humans. We want to make sure we are sending healthy animals and they stay healthy.” – Air Mobility Command
During the transport flight handlers splash water on the dolphin to keep their skin wet. Transporting dolphin has to be one of the coolest missions ever for a C-17 aircrew.
Featured images of U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program (NMMP) dolphin trainers tending to their dolphins before a flight from Naval Air Station Key West, Fla., to the NMMP in San Diego by Staff Sgt. Nicole Leidholm, US Air Force