Currently, there are an estimated 3,000 dolphins in captivity, but robot dolphins could now replace real dolphins in aquariums and theme parks, which would mean no more dolphins in captivity.
Robot dolphins have been around since the 1990s, but they were previously used for Hollywood blockbuster films. Edge Innovations’ dolphin featured in movies such as Free Willy, Deep Blue Sea, and Anaconda.
The dolphin’s skin is made from medical-grade silicone and looks practically identical to a real dolphin. In a video introducing the robot dolphin to clients, one client said that “the most interesting thing [he] saw was the illusion of a live dolphin and the ability to interact with it.”
Edge Innovations, the company who designed the robot dolphin, noted that one dolphin weighs 550 pounds, is 8.5 feet long, and costs anywhere between $2 million and $5 million, and they hope that Hollywood filmmakers will use their incredibly realistic robot dolphins for films as well as aquariums and theme parks.
Although expensive, some theme parks in China are already planning to adopt the robot dolphin.
These robots are not limited to dolphins—Edge Innovations says that people could even be able to swim with animals such as great white sharks and ancient reptiles that were in the ocean during the Jurassic-era, which could attract more tourists to theme parks and aquariums.