the shocking reality for Spinner dolphins that the BBC failed to even mention

wild spinner dolphins

friendly familiar faces

Bringing beautiful images of the natural world to the public is extremely important. The public will protect what they love right? But what happens when in order to paint that pretty picture the crew has to present a distorted depiction of reality?


When the film crew totally ignore the real life issues facing the dolphins they are filming, knowing full well they have the means to initiate change simply by filming and exposing the truth. Or even…just mentioning it in their narrative. For the truth about the Spinner dolphins is anything but pretty.


The Pacific waters off Costa Rica’s coast, where the BBC brought us ‘never before filmed’ Spinner dolphin ‘super pod’ images- well that was base camp for the BeAs1 team. Those sleek gentle Spinner dolphin’s faces, were all too familiar to our small but dedicated crew.

We spent months based there (on a limited budget) not just to film the dolphins on a good day, but to expose the horrific crimes being committed by the tuna corporations and the harsh reality of extinction that faces these gentle creatures if something is not done soon. Think we are exaggerating? In the last 25 years the commercial tuna fleets have already netted and killed 80% of the Spinner dolphin population. This specific dolphin population is a rare subspecies of Spinner Dolphin called the Costa Rican or Centro Americana Spinner, found solely along a stretch of ocean less than 150km (95 miles) wide off Western Central America. Extinction for them, is a very real threat and for what? Well, all for a tin of tuna.


We were prepared to risk our lives to film the dolphins being routinely hunted down with helicopters, bombs and motor boats to catch the yellow fin tuna that swim beneath them. We were prepared to jump into the purse seine nets to film the trapped tuna and wounded Spinner dolphins fight for their lives. Where dolphin bodies are tossed carelessly overboard and tuna bodies are prized, tinned and given a shiny ‘dolphin friendly label’ .Then sent all around the world perhaps even to a supermarket near you.

spectacular spinning Spinners


When the BBC arrived in Drake Bay to film everyone knew they were in town. We also know the crew was fully aware of the tuna/dolphin issue, so we hoped fervently that with an entire fleet of boats, film crew, divers, state of the art cameras and countless days spent off shore filming the Spinners that they would at the very least take an interest in using their resources to assist even in a small way the dolphins that they had come so far to film. But instead, they showcased only the stunning images of a chance good day in the life of a Spinner dolphin whilst totally ignoring the reality and brushing aside the huge responsibility they had in their hands to really make a difference.

dolphins and tuna chased and netted, fighting for their lives

Look carefully in the first  episode and you will see some of the Spinner dolphins have damaged dorsal fins. That will be injuries from irresponsible tuna fishing methods by foreign fleets in Costa Rican waters. Every single year ‘eco-friendly’ Costa Rica turns a blind eye to a large dolphin kill quota set by the tuna corporations themselves. It all goes on unseen, reported and managed by a twisted and corrupt tuna commission. Sealed and stamped with a feel good but misleading dolphin friendly label. Nothing like a good BBC documentary to bring the world’s focus on this horrible fact, to support local initiatives and constructive campaigns for change. Or to pressure Costa Rica to save the sub species of Spinner dolphin that carries their own countries name. Right?


And what of the yellow fin tuna? Did you all notice that the ONLY yellow fin tuna present, was the BBC’s own spy-cam tuna? This is supposed to be one of the last critically important areas for the yellow fin tuna species. The water should have been packed with them swimming beneath the dolphins. It’s a mysterious relationship that has captivated scientists and been horrifically exploited by the tuna industry, to the point that now, there are precious few left. And the solutions are simple, but little known. The general world has no idea what is truly going on.


To be blunt Be As One is shocked, that the BBC failed even to mention the real issues bringing an illusion to the public and shirking responsibility to bring about a real and positive change. One would like to think that a well-respected channel such as this, actually gives a damn about the dolphins they put so much effort and money into filming. In addition the BBC crew had the power and resources on the ground, to make an incredible difference to the lives of the individual dolphins through using their cameras to catch the reality of a Spinner dolphins fight for life inside a tuna net. If the world saw what really goes on in Costa Rican waters well, perhaps there would be a chance of change.  As it stands it’s not looking so good for the Spinner dolphins or the yellow fin tuna for that matter. Click here to find out what you can do. Please Donate to our marine fund and  help get our team get back there to expose this,  we really do care about getting the truth out.


Nori Neumann

Campaign Director

nori ‘at’

Team searching for the fleets in their tuna hunting ground

Super pods of Spinners, in troubled times...

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Whale & dolphin watch tour operators take the lead on responsible whale watching

Ever wanted to go whale watching in a whaling country but wondered whether you should?
Perhaps you would like to swim with dolphins but are unsure what constitutes responsible practice?
Maybe you dream of seeing whales in the most inspiring and educational environment possible?
All these questions, and many more, are discussed in the first Report on Responsible Whale and Dolphin Watching ever produced by the very people that spend more time with these magnificent animals than anybody else. Together, they represent the very best of the whale and dolphin watching industry from around the world. In 2012 a coalition of these businesses formed a partnership committed to adopting new strategies that will prioritize the welfare of whales and dolphins and the long-term sustainability of the industry. This report describes just some of the ways in which they intend to do it.
The demand to see whales and dolphins in the wild is increasing worldwide (attracting over 13 million people in 119 countries in 2008), and there are many positive aspects to watching cetaceans from commercial vessels, including improved opportunities for research and the potential to educate and inspire millions of people.

However, there is also growing evidence to show that watching whales and dolphins in the wild may be having a detrimental effect upon them. Although this is by no means universally true, it is widely accepted that the whale and dolphin watching industry remains poorly regulated in many areas and suffers from a lack of internal direction. The standard of tours on offer is also highly variable.

It is intended that by sharing the experience and knowledge they have picked up over many years, the companies in this report will underline the commercial benefit that sustainable operation has brought to their businesses. The report shows that the whale and dolphin watching industry has already developed viable solutions to many of the problems arising and is willing to discuss how these can be implemented across the industry. It takes an honest and in-depth look at how issues of sustainability and responsibility are being tackled by those who work closest with cetaceans each year – the whale and dolphin watch tour operators.

The 2012 Report on Responsible Whale and Dolphin Watching is the start of something new and exciting – the opportunity for those working in the industry to share ideas and work together to improve the standards of their businesses and guarantee long term financial stability and sustainability. Crucially, it also illustrates that efforts to conduct responsible whale watching tours also benefit operators financially in a number of ways – meaning that there is no reason why these ideas, and many more that the partnership hopes to incorporate in the future, should not be taken up across the industry and across the world.

This report was created by the following 12 whale and dolphin watch operators through their roles as 2012 Responsible Whale Watch Partners:

Arctic Whale Tours, Norway; Cape Ann Whale Watch, USA; Conscious Breath Adventures, Dominican Republic; Dolphin Encountours, Mozambique; Dolphin Adventure, Gibraltar; Elding, Iceland; FIRMM, Spain; Hebridean Whale Cruises, UK; Marine Discovery Penzance, UK; Turmares Tarifa, Spain; Whale Watching Panama, Panama; and Whale Watch West Cork, Ireland.

The report was part-funded by Defra (The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the UK), and launched at the World Whale Watch Conference, held in Brighton, UK, on 25th October 2012. It is now fully revised and available for free download.


For further information please contact: Dylan Walker of Planet Whale. Tel: +44(0)1273 355011

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When we setup and founded Be As One Foundation it was with a shared commitment to work with and engage with other organizations, we firmly believe that a problem shared is a problem half and that more organization should work more closely together in order to find and deliver on real solutions to the issues we all care so passionately about.

That is why we along with our partners Women for Whales were one of the early signatures of the Save the Whales Reloaded Campaign which is bringing many organizations and individuals together under a global pledge.

Save the Whales ReloadedTogether we can achieve so much more than we can alone

  • Everybody deserves a say in how we manage our oceans, including important decisions that affect whales and dolphins
  • Whales and dolphins desperately need us to speak with one voice if we are to protect them and their ocean habitats before it is too late

Many more joined the cause and last month’s Whale Conference and Festival.

But it is not just about organizations. We care about what you the public, you are friends and supporters think. Let us know your ideas on how we can continue to grow and become more efficient at delivering on our commitments, and more importantly tell how you would like to get involved making the world a better place and providing real and long-lasting results.  Young or old, rich or poor, skilled or unskilled, experienced or inexperienced you are all valuable to us. We can only succeed through working together and understanding different perceptions.  We are listening.

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Whale Fest 2012  Conference Day 2

Session 4: Whale Life

Day 2 started off with a couple of talks about particular field projects. Acclaimed speaker Philip Hoare presented an overview of natural history and how our interaction with the natural world has changed throughout our history; providing a philosophical view on whether we really understand the needs and culture of our friends in the oceans. Finishing with a general discussion on whether the names humanity had chosen for these majestic animals were the best. Dr Barbara Maas brought us back to earth with her passionate talk about the plight of Maui and Hector Dolphins in New Zealand.  Hector Dolphins are the smallest dolphins and are critically endangered with only a reported 55 adults still in the wild. If any project is worth of worldwide attention surely it is this one.

Session 5:  Conservation for the Better

John Fanshawe, Senior Strategy Adviser at Birdlife International introduced the benefits of a global partnership of organization that shared common goals.  Birdlife International is the largest body of conservation organizations working towards common goals and strategies.  The partnership allows differences f opinions to be openly discussed in a relaxed environment, useful alliances to be formed in solving common issues identify knowledge gaps and hopefully minimizes duplication of effort. The partnership allows large national and global organizations to gain beneficial insights from small local organization that have specialist experience in their field areas.  The partnership also enables small organization to have the strength of a large global body supporting them when they address government representatives and other bodies. As John explained the framework concept behind Birdlife International is a simple one, all member organization no matter the size and global coverage has the same authority within the partnership, one member one vote. Contribution fees of each member organization are based on the size of their own membership base.

Planet Whales, idea is to create a similar partnership for whales and dolphins.  We at Be As One Foundation and our sister organization Women for Whales fully support this idea, not only do we believe it is a good way forward we believe it is vital to ensure long term and viable solutions to the issues that face cetaceans and all marine life.

Coffee Break: Standing Together

During the coffee break Dylan highlighted the successes of yesterday’s mapping exercise with delegates mapping several ‘areas of concern’.  Most important 3 of the large global organization had agreed to stand together to protect the southern ocean round – to help make the southern ocean whale sanctuary a true whale sanctuary and encourage other organizations to join together in the same pledge.

Dylan also took the opportunity to introduce to everyone the large mural that was being painted outside, thank you to Nori and Lucan and the team of volunteers for pulling this together.  At the end of the conference it is planned for everyone to stand united around the mural to celebrate both whale fest and to remind the world of the moratorium that was signed 30 years ago to ban commercial whaleing worldwide and to renew our commitment to save the whales.

Session 6: Value of Social Media

Duane Raymond of Fairsay gave an outline of the benefits and importance of social media in enabling organizations to highlight their concerns and to reach out to the public. The presentation outlined the various types and aspects of social media and their relevance from conventional face-to-fact, through email to some of the more recent innovations like Facebook and Twitter.

A very interesting and insightful talk however I believe it was slightly behind the curve in highlight the potential of Facebook and Twitter, particularly in dynamically creating awareness through friends of friends.


Session 7 and Close: Joining Together

Dylan opened the final session my reaffirming the launch of the Save the Whale Reloaded Campaign and pledge. 50 organizations (already including Be As One Foundation ad Women for Whales) have already signed up to the pledge:

SaveTheWhale-Reloaded Together we can achieve so much more than we can alone.

 Everybody deserves a say in how we manage our oceans, including important decisions that affect whales and dolphins.

 Whales and dolphins desperately need us to speak with one voice if we are to protect them and their ocean habitats before it is too lat.

As a result of the mapping exercise and a willingness to ‘pull together’ 3 key areas of concern were highlighted. These 3 areas provided a good representation of all the mapped areas.  All the delegates were invited to sign a paper pledge their support to each of these areas individually or on behalf of their organizations:

Southern Ocean Whale SanctuaryThe Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary

Although the Southern Ocean was made a whale sanctuary in 1994 it is still where the most whales are killed by man.  This pledge was a commitment to work towards making the southern ocean a true sanctuary where whales and dolphins are offered real protection.

Priorities include the development of a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPA) in and around the Ross Sea.

20 organizations have signed this pledge.

Hector's and Maui's dolphins inhabit coastal watersNew Zealand’s Coastal Waters

22 conservation groups and businesses from around the world have joined NABU International in a collective bid to save the Maui and Hector’s dolphins from extinction as a result of poorly regulated fishing practices.

Maui and Hector Dolphins only found in the coastal waters of New Zealand are one of the smallest species of dolphin and are critically endangered with most reports indicating there are less than 55 adults.  These dolphins are understandably are in need of urgent support and I hope you will join us in pledging our commitment.

Read More:

Free morgan the OrcaLoro Parque, Tenerife

Captured two years ago, wild orca Morgan languishes in Loro Parque, a privately owned entertainment park in the Canary Islands.

Now 47 charities, businesses and delegates at the World Whale Conference have added their support to the Free Morgan

Foundation to Save Morgan from captivity.

Acting for and on behalf of both Be As One Foundation and Women for Whales I was happy to pledge support to all 3 campaigns.

At the end of the conference and to announce a renewed commitment to saving the whales and to strengthen the global pledge we all headed outside for a press release and public photos around the beautiful graft Muriel on Brighton seafront.

Save the Whale Reloaded

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Notes from the Field: Terciopelo

October 26, 2012 | Max

While the Osa Peninsula, rich with biodiversity and sheer beauty, is a wonderful place to kick back and relax, there are numerous opportunities for visitors to catch a glimpse of some of the world’s most fascinating reptiles. Some of which, like the Terciopelo, can be especially hard (and dangerous) to spot.

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Osa Conservation Supports Research in Golfo Dulce: Drawing conclusions

October 12, 2012 | Brooke

While Jorge and I both loved working on the water, the results of our research brought the greatest rewards. Golfo Dulce is a true bio-gem—one of Costa Rica’s preeminent riches. Several hundred Green sea turtles, critically endangered Hawksbill sea turtles, Olive Ridley sea turtles and (reportedly) Pacific Leatherback sea turtles, rest, feed, mate and nest in the gulf. A rare xanthic
colony of pelagic sea snakes resides around the inner basin.

Read More

Arrested Development: Osa residents debate marina project in community forums

October 8, 2012 | Andrea

For the last two weekends, hundreds of people from Puerto Jimenez and surrounding towns have crowded together into small hot rooms for hours on end to engage in heated discussions about a very important current affair that is getting people talking in the Osa Peninsula. And there’s not a soccer ball in sight.

Read More

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International Whale Conference

At Whale Fest 2012

A Brief Summary – Part 1


The full conference was filmed by a 3rd party and will soon be publicly available but here follows a brief overview. I will not go into too much detail regarding each presentation since it will be available on video (some key points are already on youTube)

The conference conducted over 2 days was attended by about 50 people representing either themselves or registered organization primarily non-profits as a similar conference for the whale-watching community was being carried out in the adjoining room.

The format of the conference was a morning of presentations followed by an afternoon of more interactive discussions.

Session 1:  Conference Introduction

Dylan form plant-whale hosts of the conference and whale fest welcomed everyone to the conference and began with an ‘ice-breaker’ by getting everyone to wonder around the room to randomly introduce us to each other and to try and create a shopping list of the most strangest thing participants had eaten.

Dylan then introduced a global campaign in which he wants to involve everybody by getting as many people and organization to sign up to a simple pledge and to create ways to engage with the public and large.   This was discussed in more detail on day 2.

Then followed a small presentation by the conference sponsors Big Green Factory – an office service company that specialized in sourcing material from local and sustainable sources preferably recycled material.

Session 2: Introduction to Digital Mapping

Digital Mapping was introduced as an important way to visual geographic area of primary concern and became a major theme of both the conference and of whale-fest.

Eric Holt from WDC gave a brief introduction to Marine Protected Area (MPAs) explaining their importance and the process taken to identify potential areas and the steps required to formalize them into internationally recognized area.  Eric also introduced the concept of networked MPA or super MPA comprising of a set of MPA linked together to form a super-protect area where each individual section is managed by an independent body.

Dr. Will McClintock from Marine Science Institute, University of California introduces a new mapping system that he was development. Based on ERSI architecture the leader supplier of environmentally based mapping software his open source system has been developed to allow anybody to circle areas f interest on a global map available on a public website. The system will then search existing data sets of that area and automatically highlight other areas of concern- for example if there is a per-existing shipping lane in the area or siting of whale species etc.

This morning’s sessions was closed by a quick presentation by Dr Mike Tetley to introduce the activities for the afternoon.  The idea being that in the afternoon we would divide up into stakeholder groups to discuss what we as a group considered were primary area of concern.  These areas would then be created in Google Earth and so a comprehensive outline of what we all considered where area of concern.  This mapping image could then be used to raise awareness and engage the public.  During the course of whale-fest over the week members of the public would also be encouraged to highlight their areas for concern.

Session 3: Live Mapping

After a short lunch break we split ourselves up into stake holder groups. What was meant by a stakeholder group caused some initial confusion but eventually we were split into NGO, whale watching business, scientist & researchers, NGO and of course the dolphins & whales themselves.

I was part of the NGO group by far the largest group. As expected there was a lot of discussion on what areas where of primary concern.  There were NGO there  from different backgrounds and locations and we all felt are particular patch required urgent attention and of course we recognized the need to perhaps encircle the whole earth – recognizing the simple fact that some issues were global and non-geographic – pollution for example as well as identify local areas of concern that required a global response.  After about an hour a spokesperson for each group presented the groups areas to the rest of the conference.  Clive Martin representing the Whale gave particular impassioned presentations which captured the reasons for the conference very well.  This is available on our YouTube Channel (

Each group was then able to add there areas of concern onto a global map via Google earth.  Individuals were also encouraged to add there areas of concern.  Each area was label by who created the polygon and why they felt that area was important.  On behalf of Be As One Foundation and Women for Whales I highlighted the area around Drake Bay Costa Rica as this is the area of concern for our Spinner Dolphin Project; I also agreed with many of the other areas being highlighted.

End of Day 1


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4th October is a very auspicious day for us at Be As One Foundation.  Not only is today World Animal Day in remembrance of the St Francis of Assisi patron saint of the animals, environment and stowaway but it is also Nori birthday.  Happy Birthday Nori co-founder of both Be As One Foundation and Women for Whales.

Of course we are not a religious group but we are spiritual believing in the inter-connectivity of all things and believe Giovanni Francesco is a historical character worthy of remembrance for his love and dedication toward animals.  He called all creatures his “brothers” and “sisters,” and even preached to the birds and supposedly persuaded a wolf to stop attacking some locals if they agreed to feed the wolf.  St. Francis’ love and care for nature serves as a reminder to all of us “not to behave like dissident predators where nature is concerned, but to assume responsibility for it, taking all care so that everything stays healthy and integrated, so as to offer a welcoming and friendly environment  especially to those who succeed us.”

Now today world animal day is celebrate around the world with events taking place in over 66 countries of the world.  Find out if an event is taking place near you.  If not do something good for animals today.   Support us or one of the other amazing animal charities doing good work.   Eat a vegan (animal free) diet today.  Of course being vegan is not right for everybody but you will be amazed at the variety of amazingly tasty dishes that you are missing out on at a vegan/vegetarian restaurant near you.

So let’s all go out and celebrate Nori’s birthday in style by doing something good for animals.

I first met Nori and Lucan whist in India 3 years ago where she was working tireless to raise the profile of the endangered and revered Dugong, the sacred sea cow.  Since then Nori had done amazing work,  growing  women for whales into a global voice for our marine friends, united many organization in their fight to protect whales and dolphins and she now spearheads Be As One Foundation’s marine projects.    In a couple of months I   excited to be joining Nori and Lucan  in Costa Rica in our spinner dolphin research program where I hope to see my first large whale.  This is a vital program that not only helps protect dolphins, and put them on the IUCN’s global watch list but our community work will directly help the local people.  I know it will be an amazing experience for me and I hope you will  join us on this exciting adventure.  For more information come and see us an Whale Fest, Brighton UK on the 27th or look at the project on our website.


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Report of a tour of Cayo Zapatilla 2 12 January 2012-01-12

On January 12 around lunch time we arrived in Zapatilla Island 2, we had lunch and took a walk around the island from the station, along the wooden walk way and then along the beach, essentially all the way around this special island.
The following is a report of what we believe was a chemical pesticide mixed with diesel sprayed on the wooden walkways and other wooden structures against termites. Upon arrival we noticed two wardens preparing yellow pumps that looked like hand-held pesticide sprayers.

Later, whilst walking on the wooden walkway we noticed a very strong smell coming from the wood. This concerned us as we had no shoes. The smell became overpowering, we tried to take another walk way, but both pathways smelt equally overpowering with strong chemicals. The sun became very strong, so we noticed that there were no more trees in the area. It looked like they had all died, and some cut down and left there as if they were sick. We noticed that this entire area, where the wooden walkway was built, had no trees .

Then we noticed places where diesel floated in the water along the wooden walkway. We were so shocked that we took these photographs.

It was very uncomfortable, and certainly worried us very much to walk there, breathing and standing in poison. The entire wooden walkway looks barren. When we got back to the station we had picked up three bags FULL of beer cans ( plastic plates knifes and forks) which were left on the beach. So, more signs are needed to encourage tourists to clean up after themselves (and their lunch) when they come to paradise.

We also spoke to some wardens who confirmed that to protect the wood against termites they were using a mix of diesel and some chemical poison sprayed, they later commented that if they knew of some natural products to use they would rather use that.

There are many natural products available and would be far better! The runoff from this poison could be the reason all the trees in the area are already dead or dying. I have only been there once, but I do know that at the very least this spray will surely be affecting the coral reef, the sea grass and absolutely everything in the surrounding ecosystem. That’s certainly not a good thing for such an amazing and protected marine area. Maybe at least mention that a paint brush would be better than spaying it everywhere.

We hope you understand that we are just passionate about nature and conservation and are not complaining, just bringing attention to the issue. And I am sure you are happy that this has been highlighted and we will be able to fix it, or we would gladly help in solving the problem together.

Thank you so much
Lucan Mulder and Nori Neumann

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The Whale fest in Brighton last week was the first of its kind in Europe and brought many whale and dolphin enthusiasts together under one roof. Including some very large inflatable whales.

The combined stand for Women for Whales and Be As One Foundation brought many signatures and hand prints together in support of the proposed South Atlantic whale sanctuary. So thank yo for all this coming along. Specially thanks to Nori and Emily in organizing and hosting the stand and for all those hand prints.

Sign our supporting letter or better stiil create your own poster

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Dolphin Name: Opo (female)

Species: a bottlenose dolphin

Previous Location Address:

Date of release:1972

History : one year of captivity at Miami Seaquarium

Rescue/Release Process Followed:returned to original capture site in Biscayne Bay, Florida

Post Release Follow Up:No follow-up occurred, but the dolphin had re-adapted to diet of live fish

and was allowed to swim away


References:Balcomb, K.C. 1995. Cetacean Releases. Centre for Whale Research, Friday Harbour, WA.

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