Torn away from their families and kept in small, prison-like pools, dolphins are harmed by programs that allow humans to swim with them. But what if you could experience swimming with them without the harm? A first-of-its-kind robotic dolphin could make all our dreams—most importantly, those of dolphins—come true.
Melanie Langlotz of Geo AR Games in Auckland, New Zealand has teamed up with Roger Holzberg and Walt Conti of San Francisco–based Edge Innovations to create a jaw-dropping animatronic dolphin that has the potential to upend the cruel captive marine mammal industry. These visionaries have thrown a lifeline to sensitive dolphins exploited in “swim with dolphins” encounters and archaic marine parks. We’re honoring Melanie Langlotz of Geo AR Games in New Zealand with an Innovator for Animals Award for making waves with the high-tech invention.
PETA US is also sending Edge Innovations’s Roger Holzberg and Walt Conti the same award.
“But I love dolphins!” will never be an acceptable excuse to pay to swim with captive, live ones.
If you’ve watched The Cove, you already understand why we’re so grateful to innovators such as Holzberg, Conti, and Langlotz. Thanks to them, there is an end in sight to cruel “swim with dolphins” programs around the world, for which young dolphins may be traumatically abducted from their ocean homes and frantic mothers, sometimes illegally.
In marine parks such as Sea World on the Gold Coast, highly intelligent, far-ranging dolphins are confined to cramped chemically treated tanks and are unable to swim long distances or escape conflicts with other frustrated dolphins. Sea World typically puts on daily shows, in which “marine mammal trainers” ride on the animals’ back, command them to dive and jump and launch humans out of the water by their rostrums. They also encourage visitors to pay extra to pat and swim with dolphins.
So what are dolphin lovers to do while we wait (im)patiently for the new robotic dolphin to go mainstream? There are loads of cruelty-free opportunities to see these intelligent, graceful animals in their natural habitat, including hitting the beach, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding hopping on a boat, snorkeling, or scuba diving.
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