Federal officials and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is now experimenting with underwater drones, essentially robotic fish, to sniff out smugglers and other lawbreakers, 1200 WOAI news reports.


  The six foot long tuna shaped robotic fish is being tested by the Department of Homeland Security in the Houston Ship Channel, 1200 WOAI's Berit Mason has learned.  The Port of Houston was chosen for the test because it is among the nation's busiest ports.


  "This is a way to investigate ships, so you don't have to put divers in the water, or submarines, or anything like that," Andy Smith of Texas Parks and Wildlife told 1200 WOAI news.  "It is very discrete."


  Officials wouldn't say if the 'robo-fish' is responsible for any arrests.


  "They are trying to search ships that possibly have illegal cargo attached," he said.  "You are trying to catch smugglers."


  Smith says the bio swimmer is like a drone for the sea: an unmanned sensor to detect the bad guys without them knowing it.

  "Its the same concept in the water," he said.  "You have something that is able to act on it's own, via remote control."


  Officials say if the robo-fish is successful in its Ship Channel test, it will be moved to other waters, including the Rio Grande, to sniff out illegal activity.