And the Proggy Award Goes To …

Posted by on July 7, 2011 | Permalink

… Preston resident Paul Obernay of Benthic Pelagic Solutions for inventing an animal-friendly alternative to swimming with dolphins! PETA’s Proggy Awards (“Proggy” is for “progress”) recognise animal-friendly achievements in commerce and culture. Mr Obernay will be receiving his framed award shortly so that he can proudly display his achievement.

The device, called the “Dolphin Dome”, uses video screens and the sounds of the sea to create the sensation of being in the ocean with dolphins. Interacting with the aquatic mammals is claimed to have a beneficial effect for people with autism and cerebral palsy, and Obernay’s invention is designed to offer a type of therapy that does not involve cruelty to animals.

Paul Obernay's Proggy Award

Dolphins are sensitive and intelligent animals who can become bored, stressed or injured in captivity, and they can pose a very real danger to patients. The Dolphin Dome is a significant advance for science and animal welfare, allowing disabled people to experience the beauty of these majestic animals without harming any real dolphins.

In the wild, dolphins swim up to 100 miles a day together in family pods, but in captivity, their ocean worlds are reduced to small, barren tanks. Most captive dolphins live to just half the age of their wild brothers and sisters. Scientists at Emory University in the US performed brain scans on dolphins and found that the cerebral cortex and the neocortex of bottlenose dolphins were so large that dolphins’ cognitive capacity is second only to humans.

Obernay said he was motivated to build the £100,000 prototype by his belief that dolphins should not be kept in captivity. The unit, which is currently being tested in trials, is an enclosed dome containing video screens with images of dolphins. The patient lies down, and coloured lights and dolphin calls are played.

If you know of any innovative and deserving products or companies that make animal health and welfare a priority, please get in touch and nominate them for a Proggy Award of their own.