Wandering behind the scenes at a Japanese marine zoo, Chinese photographer Huang-Ju came across this scene.
“I saw the workers scrubbing this tank,” he says, “but then I suddenly realized there were dolphins lying in the drained pool. I was shocked at how the staff ignored the dolphin and didn’t seem to be in any hurry to refill the pool.”
The photo won Huan-Ju a special commendation in this year’s photo contest for the Veolia Environnement The World in Our Hands Award.
Former dolphin trainer Ric O’Barry, who campaigns all over the world on behalf of captive dolphins, said: “It goes on at all of the 51 dolphin amusement parks in Japan at least once a month—sometimes twice a month in the summer.
Here’s a video of one such tank cleaning operation, with one of the dolphins clearly in serious distress as the others look on:
“They drop the water and scrub away the algae, then hose the tank down, then raise the water back up,” said O’Barry. “This goes on here in the USA, in Europe, and everywhere else dolphins are held in tanks.”