Scientists are hoping to use the extremely well-catered sensory abilities of marine animals to help detect enemies in the ocean. Water dwelling animals have been fine-tuning their sensory abilities for millions of years and technology cannot offer the same outcome. This is why the federal Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is hoping to establish the Persistent Aquatic Living Sensors (PALS) programme to turn the likes of fish into the latest batch of US spies.
The programme could see experts monitor the fluctuations in schools of sea bass and examining microbes which respond to magnetic signatures of submarines.
Programme manager Dr Lori Adornato said: “The US Navy’s current approach to detecting and monitoring underwater vehicles is hardware-centric and resource intensive.
“As a result, the capability is mostly used at the tactical level to protect high-value assets like aircraft carriers, and less so at the broader strategic level.
“If we can tap into the innate sensing capabilities of living organisms that are ubiquitous in the oceans, we can extend our ability to track adversary activity and do so discreetly, on a persistent basis, and with enough precision to characterise the size and type of adversary vehicles.
“The PALS program was developed to leverage the great sensitivity that organisms have in the ocean to changes in their environment.”
The US Government has distributed $45million (£35million) among five research teams who are working on separate projects to understand specific organisms and what technologies can be introduced to employ the critters as spies.
One of the teams are analysing the noises made by snapping shrimp which can be used as a sort of sonar.
The project’s lead, Dr Alison Laferriere of Raytheon BBN Technologies, told Scientific American: “It has the potential to detect even the quietest vehicles that might be there.”
Another animal being used are goliath groupers which make loud booms and experts believe said noises can be used to help detect approaching drones or submarines.