The specific reasons why they've bought up big on marine mammals is unclear, but what we do know is the military requested specimens with "perfect teeth", a "willingness to 'display motor activity'" and, perhaps most bizarrely, blowholes completely free of mucus. Read into that what you will.
The Russian government has declined to give more details on what the dolphins, which were bought from the Utrish Dolphinarium in Moscow, will be used for, but it is believed they are planning to revive the Cold War-era practice of using marine mammals to carry out military procedures. During the Cold War, dolphins were entrusted with patrolling Soviet waters, planting explosive devices on enemy vessels, flagging mines and attacking military scuba divers. Who knew?
And it's not just Russia who has harnessed the sea creatures for war purposes (or should that be, porpoises? Sorry, we couldn't help ourselves). Retired Colonel Viktor Baranets told The Guardian, "Americans looked into this first, but when Soviet intelligence found out the tasks US dolphins were completing in the 1960s, the defence ministry at the time decided to address this issue." The US is currently phasing out its dolphin unit, but they deployed sea lions to Bahrain in 2003.
The lesson in all this? Next time you spot a dolphin at the beach, be wary - it could be a Russian spy.