A retired U.S. Navy seal that was part of the top-secret Marine Mammal Program that trained seals and dolphins to perform underwater tasks died on Friday. Gunnar, who lived to 38, was best known for learning how to use a screwdriver, turn underwater valves, and retrieve objects at a depth of 500 feet during the Cold War. In 1973, a Navy researcher approached a gray seal rookery in Iceland and recruited Gunnar, who showed curiosity while other pups fled. His curiosity eventually ended his tenure in the program. “Seals are like cats: difficult to train, stubborn, and aloof,” said Rebecca Miller, an animal keeper at Washington, D.C.’s National Zoo. The Navy donated Gunnar to the zoo in 1979, where he has lived ever since.
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