Tenerife is the largest of the seven stunning Canary Islands, which form this Atlantic Ocean archipelago. From the golden sandy beaches in the south to the dramatic lunar landscape of Mount Teide National Park and everything in between, Tenerife is a must see.
The Canary Islands are part of a community of Island chains situated in the mid-Atlantic Ocean. Along with Madeira, Cape Verde, the Azores and the Savage Islands, the Canaries are known as Macaronesia which literally translates as ‘Islands of the Fortunate’. The Canary Islands certainly are fortunate as they boast over 1700 species of plants and an assortment of animal, insect and marine life and out of the seven Canary Islands, Tenerife is the most biologically diverse due to its extraordinary climate and geography.
This little Island is home to two world heritage sites, one national park, the world’s third largest volcano and forty two natural protected spaces making it jam packed with places to explore. The enormous variety of activities and sites such as the medieval castle, unspoilt villages and fantastic diving will make your time in Tenerife a truly unique experience.
As one of the top whale and dolphin watching destinations in the world, the south-west coast of Tenerife is a truly outstanding location for the observation of free-living whales. There are resident communities of pilot whales and dolphins which remain here throughout the year, which can be observed on perhaps 80% of the days of the year. There is also a total of 24 other species migrating through Canarian waters at different times of the year from the giant blue whale to the majestic killer whale.
WHAT DOES THE PROJECT DO?
Whales and dolphins are a natural resource in the Canary Islands, as is highlighted by the presence of more than 84 whale watching boats in the Islands, and about 500,000 whale watching tourists every year. Whales and dolphins are both beautiful species and have been around for millions of years so it’s of extreme importance humans conserve and respect these creatures.
Currently the whales and dolphins face a number of threats including habitat degradation, injury from ships and commercial fishing equipment, prey depletion caused by overfishing, and noise and health effects resulting from increased in-water pollution rates.
There are still a number of key cetacean populations that are resident and reproduce in the region, and so the protection of these magnificent creatures is paramount. We need volunteers to join the project that are committed to ensuring the conservation of a number of endangered cetacean species. The baseline data you collect will contribute towards the long-term management of the area and assist in promoting marine conservation in the wider region. So if you’re a marine life enthusiast and want to contribute to the important work of conservationists in Tenerife then this is the project for you!
WHAT WILL I BE DOING?
Volunteers can expect to join one of the many whale-watching boats 3-4 times a week. After your initial training, your role will cover two equally important areas:
You will be undertaking important observation and monitoring work. Here you will be taking photographs of the whales in order to help grow the catalogue of whales that are recorded in the area – this enables us to improve our knowledge of family and community groups, and whether the population is expanding or not. Also you will be observing interaction behavior, and recording this important data, building up a picture to determine if behavior is dependent on group size as well as monitoring the effect of the whale watching industry on the cetaceans present.
You will act as a guide on the whale watching boats. Here you will be interacting with the tourists that are on day trips, raising awareness about the resident cetacean population as well as the migratory species they can expect to see at that time of year. You will supliment the work of the boat guides, perhaps helping out with English translations. This is a crucial activity as with this education they can inform others and so the knowledge spread can help to improve conservation attitudes globally.
Back at the field base after each survey day you will help enter the data collected into the research databases. You will be taught how to correctly prepare digital photos of the whales and dolphins for subsequent identification, and learn how to match these using the natural marks on the fin with the digital catalogue of known individuals. If you’re willing to get stuck in and engross yourself in valuable work contributing to the conservation of these charismatic and enchanting species then this project is perfect for you.