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Conscious Breath Adventures:

Winner of the 2012 Responsible Whale Watch Awards


“I appreciate the recognition afforded by my guest reviews and judging by industry peers. Respect is my currency of choice, and to have earned it from both groups feels pretty good. Thank you”

Captain Gene Flipse, Conscious Breath Adventures


At a ceremony held at Brighton Hilton Metropole on 26th October, we at Planet Whale were delighted to announce that Conscious Breath Adventures (Dominican Republic) were the winners of the inaugural Responsible Whale Watch Awards. What’s more, there were two other worthy finalists this year with Eye to Eye Marine Encounters (Australia) and Monterey Bay Whale Watch (USA) taking runners up awards. We send huge congratulations to all three of them.


Also shortlisted for the Awards with five star ratings in passenger reviews were Sea Life Surveys (Scotland), Hebridean Whale Cruises (Scotland) and Cape Ann Whale Watch (USA).


This is the first time that this prestigious accolade has been extended and is based on independent reviews by members of the public, and assessed by a panel from within the whale watching industry. 




On receiving his award Gene said, “This is a great honor in and of itself, to be reviewed and judged by peers in the industry as worthy of recognition. To get to the final three required that guests and industry professionals all found something exceptional. We have tried for years to do our best for the whales and our guests; it’s very nice to know that others feel we do a good job!”



The runner-up award winners, John and Linda Rumney of Eye to Eye Marine Encounters - who were at WhaleFest 2011 but were unable to attend this year - sent in a video presentation, and their award was collected by Lucia Walker of Planet Whale Partner Dolphin Encountours (Mozambique). For Nancy Black of Monterey Bay Whale Watch, who also provided a video, their award was collected on their behalf by Sandra Pollard-Snowberger (Canada).


As part of Planet Whale’s on-going mission to raise the bar on responsible whale watching we acknowledge both the recognition afforded to the winners by their own peers, and also the verdicts passed on these businesses by the public through the Planet Whale online rating system.


“To me, that is the best accolade we can ever get: the fact that our guests appreciate what we do and more importantly, how we do it. We could not have gotten where we are without our guests and we thank you all from the bottom of our hearts”, said Gene.


To qualify for consideration, an operator had to score five stars in five criteria from five reviewers on the Planet Whale responsible Review and Rating System. This unique rating and review system was created not by Planet Whale but by five Founder Partners representing whale and dolphin watching and the marine charitable sector across the world. They are DolphinCare Africa, OceanCare, Whale and Dolphin Watch Australia, Sea Life Surveys, and Whale Watch West Cork. For more information on our Founder Partners click here.


The Founder Partners worked together to develop these criteria and designed five, easy-to-complete questions for passengers to submit on as part of their trip review - questions that identify important aspects of the quality and sustainability of a whale or dolphin watching trip:

1) Safe approach to whales / dolphins

2) Valuable learning experience

3) Trip meets expectations

4) Minimal impact on the marine environment

5) Own research / support for conservation


Conscious Breath Adventures was rated 5 stars across the board from reviewers after six operators qualified for consideration. Next, whale watch operators from the 2012 Whale Watch Operator’s Partnership evaluated the Planet Whale reviews for all six, along with looking at the operator’s websites, reviews, and more - viewing from both the point of view of a potential customer and as a professional whale watch operator.


At the World Whale Watch Conference, held the two days before WhaleFest 2012, the three finalists had one last chance to say a few words in person, or by video for those who could not attend, before a final vote was taken to determine the winner. After a few minutes to tally the votes the decision was announced with Monterey Bay Whale Watch (USA) and Eye to Eye Marine Encounters (Australia) placed as runners up, with Conscious Breath Adventures winning the top honor, the Responsible Whale Watch Award for 2012!


Gene was generous with both praise for his fellow finalists but also for his role models, friends, and crew, plus the legislative framework within which he operates:

“I’d like to thank the Dominican Republic’s Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources and the Sub-Secretariat of Protected Areas & Biodiversity for creating and maintaining their model Sanctuary for the Marine Mammals of the Dominican Republic. Their stewardship is a model for all nations.”

Click here to see more from Gene.


In anticipation of the Awards in 2013 we look forward to seeing more positive reviews on the Planet Whale website . . . so if you have a whale watch operator you think is doing great job get posting. Together let’s raise the standards - and take a stand too - for responsible whale watching. It really can change the world.






2013 Responsible Whale Watch Partnership:Click here to read more about the partnership