Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to… swim around.

It’s National Go Fishing Day, though the fish in today’s story aren’t exactly the ones you’d expect to catch.

They’re robotic fish, and they were developed by the Central Intelligence Agency.

As secretive as the CIA is, we know they gather intel from lots of different sources – human sources, documents, radar, satellite, surveillance flights.

But the agency has been working since the 1950s to develop ways to gather information underwater, too.

That includes Charlie and Charlene the robot catfish.

They had propulsion systems in their tail, communications systems and the ability to collect water samples.

So, for example, an agent could use a wireless control to send one of them into a body of water, collect some of it, and then analyze it for signs of radiation or bioweapons.

The CIA says neither Charlie nor Charlene were ever actually deployed in the field; but if I was an intelligence operative, I could see the advantage of robot fish.

I mean, if they’re captured – by, say, a robotic alligator – it’s not like they’re going to talk to the other side, are they? They’re fish!


Tomorrow is National Surfing Day, and one place you might mark the occasion is the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum in California.

It features artifacts and photos of surfing history all the way back to when three Hawaiian princes brought surfing to the United States on a beach in Santa Cruz back in 1885.

As Laird Hamilton said, “we’re all equal before a wave.”

Meet Catfish Charlie, the CIA’s Robotic Spy (IEEE Spectrum)

Santa Cruz Surfing Museum (Atlas Obscura)

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