Hell No, this Dolphin Won't Go

There is one combat member of the United States Marine Corp who does not want any part of President George W. Bush's war against Iraq.

Takoma has gone AWOL.

The 22 year old trained Atlantic bottle-nosed dolphin, had been deployed in Iraqi waters to hunt for mines for only 48 hours, when he decided that enough was enough, and took his shot for freedom in the Persian Gulf.

His handler, Petty Officer Taylor Whitaker was quoted prior to the defection as saying "Why would they go missing when they have the best food and daily spruce-ups and health checks?" Two hours later Takoma had gone AWOL.

"Twenty-four hours is not unusual," a nervous Petty Officer Whitaker said. "After all, he may meet some local company."

But forty-eight hours later, Petty Officer Whitaker was continuing to pat the water with a fish, but without any sign of Takoma.

Takoma's mission was to sweep the area clear of mines to allow for the British Royal Navy Auxiliary ship Sir Galahad to deliver supplies to Iraq. Takoma was accompanied by his comrade Makai. Makai returned but Takoma did not.

There is speculation that Takoma may have been shot by Iraqi soldiers, but the area was regarded as secure supporting the theory that Takoma simply went AWOL.

The U.S. Military's use of dolphins as mine detectors and weapons of war has been under criticism by humane organizations since the animals were first deployed during the Vietnam War.

Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society responded to the report of Takoma's defection.

"To draft and deploy dolphins to fight in humanity's wars is obscene. The explosions, the pollution, and the stress these intelligent and sensitive creatures are being exposed to is unpardonable. You don't free people by enslaving dolphins. What Takoma needs is freedom. Hopefully Takoma will find his way back to the Atlantic to rejoin his own kind."