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September 26, 2005

Conspiracy Theorist

Dolphins armed with toxic darts—escapees from covert military training ponds near Lake Pontchartrain —are roaming the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and they might be looking to harm swimmers they mistake for terrorists. An article in the British newspaper the Observer attributes this information to Leo Sheridan, "a respected accident investigator who has worked for government and industry." But a review of other articles based on Sheridan's claims—many of them in the Observer—show that Sheridan has a history of promoting unlikely conspiracy theories.

Military dolphin
Courtesy US Navy
The military does train dolphins, but it probably doesn't teach them to shoot toxic darts.
Sheridan's latest dolphin claim (which was discussed on Slashdot and many other popular websites) comes on the heels of Sheridan's claim in 1998 (also in The Observer) that the US military was responsible for a mass dolphin death off the coast of France:
Only one man has so far come forward with a theory, fantastic as it may seem, that could explain it. In his small village in the Ariege in the south of France, Leo Sheridan, 65, an accident investigator of some renown who has worked for governments and industry around the world, has assembled a mass of documents, clippings and charts that he claims prove his case. "I am convinced that these were dolphins trained by the US navy, and that something went badly wrong," he said. "They were disposed of to conceal the existence of the Americans military dolphin programme."

Beyond dolphins, Sheridan, now 72, has also opined about several unexplained disasters and phenomena. As the Channel Register notes today, Sheridan has previously told the Guardian (the Observer's sister paper) that he located the wreckage of Amy Johnson's plane. At the time, Sheridan claimed that he had discovered how the famous pilot died. "We may be able to prove once and for all what happened to Amy Johnson," he told the Guardian. "I've never believed the official explanation that she ran out of fuel." That was two years ago. Since that time, nothing has been found. (Gelf tried to locate contact information for Sheridan, who still seems to live in Ariege, but was unsuccessful. If we do talk to him, we'll update this post with his comments.)

Sheridan has also been given space in the Guardian to air his theory about the sinking of the Gaul, a British fishing boat that went down in Arctic waters in the 1970s. Sheridan claims there is a conspiracy on the part of the British and Russian governments to cover up the fact that the vessel was actually an undercover spy ship that was gunned down by the Russians.

Perhaps Sheridan's weirdest claim comes from 14 years ago, when he told the Observer that he had discovered how crop circles were made. "Each morning birds that feed off the crops, such as starlings and sparrows, squabble over their patch of field," he told the paper. "The birds sometimes two or three hundred of them whirl round in circles close to the top of the crops, flattening them with the action of their wings as they fight each other for a patch of field."

Terence Meaden, a former physicist who has studied crop circles and now researches rock formations like Stonehenge, told the Observer that Sheridan's theory was probably bunk. "I doubt it very much," he said. "I think it lacks credibility, don't you?"

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- Media
- posted on Apr 24, 14
Michael Leete

Is it significant that any potential information about AMY JOHNSON is suppressed? There has been no follow-up that I can find about the wreckage. The crash was over 70 years ago! I believe that the Air Ministry should now be made to tell what it knows.

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