Dolphins and orcas in the wild spend most of their time below the surface of the water. But in captivity, they can often be found floating motionlessly at the surface of their shallow pools. As a result, captive dolphins and orcas are at risk of sunburn (sunburn is not only painful, but can lead to a dangerous infection).

On July 14, the U.S. Department of Agriculture conducted a routine inspection at Theater of the Sea, a marine park in Islamorada (Florida Keys). The USDA inspector found that the saltwater pools at the park have “minimal or no shade” for its dolphins. The USDA inspector noted that one dolphin, Stormy*, had sunscreen (zinc oxide) on his head to prevent sunburn. “In order for ‘Stormy’ to get away from the sun,” the inspector wrote, “he must seek shade by the small mangroves shallows and remain virtually motionless.” Theater of the Sea received a citation for failure to provide appropriate shelter/shade for its dolphins and sea lions.

*Stormy was captured from the Gulf of Mexico in 1986.