2 weeks volunteering in the canary islands observing whales and dolphins in their natural habitat.
I volunteered in Tenerife on the programme involving whales and dolphins. I started my volunteer journey on the 12th of August 2019 and was there for 2 weeks - but I honestly wish I had stayed for longer!
I chose this programme because all my life I have been obsessed with marine life (especially dolphins). I really want to have a future involving marine life, so I wanted to get started and volunteering abroad sounded like the perfect idea - and It was.
"My overall experience in Tenerife was amazing and I cannot wait to go back as soon as possible. I had amazing encounters with whales and dolphins and is something I will never forget."
My first few days involved settling in. I was very nervous and didn’t really speak to anyone and was all round just scared!! The first day we got an introduction to the programme, so I felt a bit more comfortable and it was really interesting. I then wandered down to the town with some of the other people who had just arrived and bought some food - we became such good friends. I felt so much more comfortable. The day after you arrive you’re not expected to do any work or go anywhere it’s just a settle in day.
The next day was a boat day for new people, so we went early in the morning down to the dock with a few other volunteers and went onto the boats. The boats are great and you’re expected to do work whilst out on the boats so I was the photographer the first day and I was in charge of taking fin shots of the pilot whales and dolphins. I found this quite difficult so I changed roles and recorded data instead.
On the boats you are expected to help out with little jobs to help the crew as you are on their boats for free. Unfortunately I got sea sick as I kept wandering round the boat trying to see the whales and dolphins so after the first boat trip I got off and went back. Each boat day you go on two trips but unfortunately I missed the 2nd one so for the rest of the day I slept and woke up for tea and chatted with some other volunteers and made some more friends.
The next day we had to analyse the data we got on the boats and put it into a database which passed the time quite quickly and we did a few jobs we were allocated. Each day consists of jobs, putting your data onto the computer and the rest of the days are usually boat days which are typically every 2/3 days depending on how many volunteers. You have free time during days you’re not on the boats but you’re expected to do fin shot matching which is quite easy to do.
During my time in Tenerife I got involved with a few things we went to the local dog and cat rescue centre and got to walk a dog each and play with the cats which was really great. You can go on hikes up mountains but I didn’t do that and there was also a beach clean which I unfortunately missed out on. On the weekends me and my friend went to the beach which was about a 20 minute bus ride away but the weekends are completely you’re own time so you can spend it how you want. We went down to Los Christianos and had food went in the sea and in the night went out clubbing with a few of the other volunteers which was great fun. We met loads of people and we all bonded. There’s loads of shops and beaches around Los Christianos, so loads to do for the day, only thing is you have to make your own travel there and back via bus or taxi as it’s also the coordinators time off as well.
The local team were lovely and happy to answer any questions and very helpful with arranging any activities you wanted to do like surfing or horse riding etc I went surfing the last week and it was fab!! A few of us went during the week and it was so much fun definitely worth a chance if you want to do any activities. Another activity you are able to do is get up early and go on the rib boat which lets you listen to the whales and dolphins under the water with a microphone again unfortunately I didn’t do this but if I go again I’m definitely not missing out !!
The other volunteers were all lovely and I made a good few friends through the time I was there most volunteers were around 17-21 but we did have some younger volunteers and some families and sisters which was really nice.
The accommodation was basic but not bad at all. There are 3 different buildings for sleeping; there’s the main house which is usually for interns and people who are there for weeks and months then there’s two other buildings. The beds are bunk beds and there’s two kitchens one for the main house and one for the other two buildings so there is a shared space but no problems with that. The accommodation was simple but fine.
My overall experience was amazing and I hope to go again in August this year if the travel ban has been lifted and is safe to do so. I had amazing encounters with whales and dolphins on the boats, met some amazing people that I’m still in touch with and I wish I did more when I was there and didn’t have to leave so soon.
If you go, take every opportunity and speak to as many people as you can - even if it scares you (like me).