Making Belugas Play Ball

Kirsten Luce's Image

The belugas performed in an inflatable pool within a circus tent. They are part of a travelling show of dolphins – one of 12 such shows known in Russia today. The belugas do the same acts many times a day; then, when the show packs up, they are put in tanks and hoisted onto a truck to be transported to the next town.

Belugas, or white whales, are highly social, using a range of chirps, clicks and whistles to communicate. Sometimes they are held in small, dirty tanks with little regard shown for their behavioural needs or their physical and mental health. Countries around the world have differing laws regulating the capture of belugas and their treatment in captivity.

Behind the lens

Kirsten Luce

Kirsten Luce


Kirsten is a photojournalist based in Brooklyn, USA, who started out at daily newspapers in the USA and Mexico. She received an award from Pictures of the Year International and a Getty Images Grant for Editorial Photography. Her work has been exhibited at Visa pour l'Image, The United States Senate, the National Gallery of Canada, Harvard University and other galleries and museums.

Image details

  • Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
  • 24–70mm f2.8 lens at 59mm
  • 1/500 sec at f3.5  •   ISO 2500
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