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Saturday
Jul152017

A Whale Of A  Time

As a marine biology student, volunteering with Frontier working on whale and dolphin conservation seemed like the perfect way to spend my time after a stressful year at uni. Whatever my expectations were when I left the rain of Glasgow and arrived in the sunshine of Tenerife, they were far exceeded. I was nervous to arrive at the Frontier house and meet new people but both the staff and the volunteers were very welcoming and I know I won’t forget them anytime soon.

After completing training, we were then involved in a range of different activities, including boat excursions where we took photos and recorded data, coastal expeditions where we recorded cetacean and boat numbers and working with the community to try and raise awareness about illegal whale watching boats.

My first coastal survey, we climbed the cliffs by Los Cristianos to give us an amazing view of the horizon. I was sure we’d see nothing other than boats but just a few minutes into the survey we saw a dolphin down by the fish farms. It was amazing, seeing a dolphin in the wild and on my very first day on the job. After the survey, we decided to hire some kayaks and head out towards the fish farms to see if we could get a closer look. We were not disappointed, as we reached the fish farms a dolphin appeared just a few feet in front of the kayak. I couldn’t describe my excitement at seeing a dolphin swimming so close to us, it was extraordinary.

The boat excursions were by far my favourite activity. Being so close to such magnificent creatures really does take your breath away. My last boat, aboard Peter Pan, was definitely one experience I’ll never forget. Having only briefly seen dolphins previously, you can imagine my excitement when we came across a group of around 30 Atlantic spotted dolphins feeding. It was amazing to watch them as they darted through the water, occasionally breaching and getting very close to the boat. We also had the joy of watching a large group of pilot whales, one of which was by far the biggest I had witnessed during my time in Tenerife. As a marine biology student from Scotland, it was something I never would have expected to experience but I am so grateful that I had the chance.

One of the best things about this project, is that it’s not all work and no play. There are an endless number of things to do in Tenerife, from climbing Mount Teide to scuba diving to water sports. On one of our days off, a group of volunteers decided to do the Masca Trail and I cannot recommend it enough. The scenery is absolutely stunning, from the cute little village at the beginning of the trail to the stunning rock formations and greenery throughout the trail. Despite feeling incredibly exhausted at the end, as long as you have plenty of water and don’t mind a bit of exercise it is a beautiful place to spend your day off.

I was also lucky enough to enjoy a bit of snorkelling up by Yellow Mountain, and I enjoyed it so much that I had to return before I left. The waves and rocks may be slightly unnerving but once you are in the water, it is crystal clear and the scenery beneath the waves is better than you can imagine. As long as you are careful on the slippery rocks, it is a nice place to relax and enjoy the beautiful sea life and scenery that Tenerife has to offer.

Having recently completed my PADI certificate in Scotland, I was keen to go diving in Tenerife and with so many places that offer diving you are truly spoiled for choice. The colours of the marine life in Tenerife far surpassed what I had seen in Scotland, fish ranging just about every colour imaginable. Perhaps my most memorable moment in Tenerife happened while I was diving; coming face to face with a Green Turtle. I couldn’t quite believe my eyes as it swam towards me, trying not to move so that I would not scare it off. It was such an unbelievable moment and I will be forever glad that I got to experience it.

Being a volunteer with Frontier was such an amazing experience, getting to do things that I had only dreamed of doing. It gave me a taste of what it’s like to be part of a conservation effort and while there is a lot of work to be done, I cannot imagine any work that is more enjoyable than this. Tenerife, you were truly Teneriffic!

By Olivia Ross - Tenerife Whale & Dolphin Conservation Volunteer 

Frontier runs conservationdevelopmentteaching and adventure travel projects in over 50 countries worldwide - so join us and explore the world!

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