A Drake Bay tourism operator said she happened upon a commercial tuna boat with a net full of frightened and panicked dolphin. Her intervention, including jumping in the ocean, caused the tuna crew to work to free the dolphin although there were mammal casualties, she reported.
The tourism operator is Sierra Goodman, who is a specialist in sea mammals like dolphin and whales. She also is the president and founder of the Vidamarina Foundation, which seeks to create a marine sanctuary.Ms. Goodman was at sea with a family from Switzerland when she said she encountered the commercial operation. Dolphin frequently travel with tuna and can be captured in fishing nets. Dolphin, like humans, are air breathers, so captured dolphin frequently drown if they are not freed.
In this case, Ms. Goodman identified the animals as spinner dolphin, a subspecies that inhabit a restricted range only off the coast of Costa Rica, she said.
“When we arrived, what we found totally broke our hearts,” she said. “About 1,000 beautiful, divine spinner dolphins were inside their big net, swimming in circles, afraid and confused. We saw a little baby dolphin outside the net swimming around like crazy trying to reach his family. I filmed it all. I filmed them pulling in the nets, I filmed when several of their guys, upon seeing us, jumped into the water to try to free any stuck dolphins.”
“The dolphins were crying out, making all kinds of strange sounds, and the little dolphin outside kept racing by in a total panic,” she added.
Ms. Goodman said that to document the event from inside the net she dove into the water with a camera and began filming, Unfortunately as she left the net, the camera slipped off her arm and sank from sight. She said she saw dead dolphin in the net.
The woman returned the next day for a repetition.
Another net also had dolphin, but fewer in number. She estimated about 100. The crew began rescuing the dolphin after they saw the boat with observers, she said. A YouTube presentationshows the activity on the second day. The crew managed to release the dolphin but there were no tuna in the net, she reported.
Ms. Goodman said that the concept of dolphin-safe tuna is a not true. “If you are still eating canned tuna, and I don’t care if there is a picture of a happy dolphin on your can that says ‘Dolphin Safe’ it is a LIE!!!! Even with supposed dolphin safe laws, the dolphins are still maimed, stressed and only ‘less’ are killed. There is no way to fish yellow fin tuna in this way and have it be dolphin safe.”
She and other environmentalists are checking to see if the Venezuelan-owned boat is working legally, she said.
The Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission says that the Taurus I is one of 25 tuna boats operated by Venezuelan companies, and the boat has a capacity to carry 1,191 tuna to port. Frequently Venezuelan fishing boats that operate in the Pacific unload their catch at ports in other countries. The Taurus I is large enough to have its own helicopter to spot pods of dolphin and schools of tuna.