What's it like
A typical day on this gap year project
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 commercialised 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 residential 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 Mediterranean 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 3-5 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 act as a guide for the tourists that are on day trips, educating them about the resident cetacean population as well as the migratory species they can expect to see at that time of year. 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.