Thursday
Aug202015

A Change In My Career Path 

From the moment I stepped out of the airport on my very first day in Tenerife I knew I was going to have an amazing time. I had always loved dolphins and so I knew that this project would be perfect for me!

I had originally wanted to study forensic science at university and I never even imagined that this project would potentially change my entire career path, as I am now looking at studying zoology at university. From my first day on the project until my last day five weeks later Xiana was always there to help. Going on the boats everyday would not be possible without Xiana’s amazing work and the captain’s talk that I got to experience my first week will be something I will never forget. The best part of my trip was definitely going on the boats every day. Getting to see some of the beautiful marine mammals; pilot whales, many species of dolphins and turtles was just one of the best parts. Being able to spend such a long time on this magnificent island will be an experience that is never forgotten. This was my third time travelling alone and it tops off all the previous trips! Being able to scuba dive and snorkel with the turtles was an unforgettable experience and I recommend everyone does it!

As you begin to meet all the people on project for the first time the nerves you originally had begun to fade and you see that everyone else is there for the same reason. The first Sunday night briefing is always daunting with the ice breakers but soon it becomes one of the funniest parts of the week. Watching everyone cook is always funny, and sometimes like me you will never cook often. (I can take that as a hint Xiana that I’m a bad cook!) Or you can end up with amazing cooks and the food is delicious!

Even back at the house we still had fun, playing in the pool, movie nights and the nights out of course. The pool was always a welcomed sight after a long day on the boats in the heat, whether it be playing with Rodrigo our inflatable Orca or doing our pilot whale impressions! As a group we all went to the monkey park, snorkelling with the turtles and to Siam Park. We also went to a Spanish Festival in Los Abrigos which is a night to never forget. Both the atmosphere and the music were incredible.

During my five weeks on the project I will never forget the first time I saw my first dolphin (Atlantic spotted dolphin) and the fact that I squealed like a child for the entire interaction! Throughout my time here I was able to see pilot whales, atlantic spotted dolphins, common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and turtles. My last boat trip was on the Eden and I was able to catch some remarkable underwater footage of a Pilot Whale and even though I got soaked lying on the floor of the boat it was totally worth it! After several attempts of previous underwater footage this was definitely the best video. Whilst we were on boats we would record their behaviour, take pictures of their fins for identification and take note of the GPS. On some of the boats you would be able to jump in which was always great because of the heat. The crew were always lovely and always made everyone feel at home.

There is such a friendly atmosphere on this project and you will truly meet some amazing people. I have made an incredible group of friends and it made the experience even more memorable. I have gained some valuable experience on this project, not only about the whales and the dolphins but life experience that will stay with me. I will never forget my time here and if you ever get a chance I recommend doing this project. I will always miss the late night talks and the notable experiences in Las Americas! I will take away from this project the friendships I’ve made and the knowledge from my experience here.

By Alexandra Earl - Whale and Dolphin Conservation Volunteer

Find out more about Frontier's Whale & Dolphin Conservation Project in Tenerife.

Check out what volunteers in Tenerife are up to right now!

Thursday
Aug202015

Such A Worthwhile Trip! 

From my volunteer work carried out in Tenerife of 'Conservation of Whales and Dolphins' not only have I taken away knowledge and experience from completing the project but made friends and memories that I'll never forget.

Coming out to Tenerife (from Scotland) has been one of the best experiences of my life. I personally participated in this project for life experience, an adventure and to do a form of volunteer work. The work involved includes a bus journey (or two) to either Los Cristianos or Puerto Colón where you will share a boat with tourists whilst taking notes of what time you spot a pod, how many are there, their behaviour etc, whilst photographing the fin in particular to be able to identify individual whales or dolphins.

Although I had little knowledge on whales and dolphins I quickly picked up information which helped me successfully complete the voluntary work, this shows you don't have to have expert knowledge on the creatures to take part as you learn so much when you get to the house. Not only do you learn about whales and dolphins but Spanish is encouraged and you learn so much from your fellow house mates. The house you stay in is quite a cosy but comfortable fit for everyone.

I've made friends that I plan on staying in contact with a very long time. Xiana, who's in charge, and Tracy, her assistant, run the programme efficiently and make it fun for everyone. I'd recommend anyone who perhaps wants to pursue a career in Marine biology/wildlife/conservation and to those who want to gain life experience and help wildlife to go for taking part in this project, creating a really amazing adventure.

By Kirsty - Whale and Dolphin Conservation Volunteer

Find out more about Frontier's Whale & Dolphin Conservation Project in Tenerife.

Check out what volunteers in Tenerife are up to right now!

Friday
Aug142015

Completely Surpassing My Expectations

My expectations of Tenerife were of sun, volcanoes and British tourists but these were most definitely surpassed during my 3 weeks on the project as I discovered the beautiful variety offered by the island.

My late arriving flight meant that upon arrival at the volunteer house (which by the way has an awesome pool perfect for inflatable orcas and amazing views of Mt Teide and the arid landscape of the South) I was met by all of the other volunteers who had already arrived and went immediately to the nearby town for sangria- a perfect way to get to know everyone and I felt at home straight away. After just one week I was already referring to the volunteer house as home!

By far the most incredible parts of the project for me as a biology undergraduate were spent on the boats in the Canarian waters. It’s not possible to properly describe the feeling of seeing pilot whales or bottlenose dolphins for the first time- I think the words breath-taking and beautiful and the fact that I had goose bumps despite it being over 30 degrees pretty much sum up the experience. On whale watching trips in the past, all that I had glimpsed was a lone whale in the far distance, a blast of water or the flash of a tail, yet here in Tenerife every boat trip yielded multiple sightings of whales or dolphins or both at the same time and a few turtles if you were lucky. And these were not just individuals but whole pods of whales which could be up to 20 individuals in number including calves. I could have watched them for hours on end (tip - wear sunglasses as sunburnt eyes are not the most attractive thing to see). Short-finned pilot whales are resident around the Canary Islands and so one of the main aims of the project is to gather data on the different family groups present and the individuals that make up these groups, identified by the unique notches and scratches on their dorsal fins, a little like human fingerprints. Photographing the fins at the correct angle proved challenging but very enjoyable- scurrying all over the boat to get the best shot- although lying on the floor to take a photo between two tourists may have been a little too far (but hey, I was enjoying myself).

The location of the project and of the boat trips was perfect- we were able to lie on the beach enjoying one the world’s best smoothies whilst waiting for the boat or see the magnificent cliffs of Los Gigantes from the ocean. On some of the longer trips, the boats would stop and everyone would jump into the ocean and you’d look around you at the blueness of the water and the sky and spot the mountains in the horizon and just wish you could freeze the moment.

Other than the boat trips and data collection, the daily life of a volunteer would include data input, personal projects, cleaning and cooking (the food was delicious) and of course the all-important sunbathing by the pool. Weekends were spent exploring the island with the other volunteers and immersing yourself in the vibrant culture of Tenerife. An excursion to Mt Teide National Park was a highlight with scenery like you have never seen before- lava flows, strange rock formations creating ‘el paisaje lunar’ (lunar landscape), cacti and lizards everywhere you looked, followed by swimming in a natural pool created by the lava flows with an underground cave section. Other trips included a day to Siam Park (best waterpark ever) and snorkelling with loggerhead turtles which came so close you could touch them. I think I’m running out of superlatives to describe my experience. So to sum up, if you are thinking about joining this project, do it. You will meet amazing people and gain a multitude of experiences and memories and want to do it all over again.

By Elizabeth Heard - Whale and Dolphin Conservation Volunteer

Find out more about Frontier's Whale & Dolphin Conservation Project in Tenerife.

Check out what volunteers in Tenerife are up to right now!

Monday
Aug032015

Documenting Whales and Dolphins 

From the moment Xiana came running up to me in the frontier hat at the airport, until tearfully waving goodbye to my fellow volunteers, my time working on my project had been incredible and truly an unforgettable experience. 

With a love for animals and wildlife and even bigger love for dolphins, the tenerife whale and dolphin conservation project did not disappoint. 

A passion for photography from a young age which developed into filming, is what lead me to wanting a career in TV production, specifically wildlife documentary. Studying a degree in Digital Television Production in the media capitol, London has allowed me to gain the technical knowledge and understanding behind the art of filming, but lacks the on location experience. The location buzz and ability to understand animal behaviour is not something that can be taught in a dark studio on a Monday morning. Being out in the open, able to watch the animals in their natural environment and learn their behaviour will provide me practical experience and knowledge needed to progress. This combined with my love for travelling and animals is what encouraged me to brave up, do something out of the norm whilst at the same time be making a difference and gaining new and valuable skills, meeting new people and most importantly having fun! 3 weeks working in a hot country, by the beach working on my tan was just an added bonus. As my first time travelling alone or doing anything like this, the fear of being eaten by a tiger or lost in Thailand meant that, the close distance of Tenerife and the opportunity to work with such amazing creatures (dolphins are definitely my spirit animal and won’t eat me) this project was perfect for me.

Having never flown alone before, or worked on a project like this, the thought of actually getting out there and starting was terrifying. However as you nervously walk through the front gate of the house and met by a group of friendly people sitting around the incredible pool, who were all in the same position as you and there for similar reasons, all worries and fears seemed to disappear. Settling in and getting into a new routine doesn’t take long and you quickly feel at home. Your first briefing on Sunday is all about ice breakers and getting to know each other, as much as every student who has gone through freshers week hates an ice breaker game, it was fun getting to know the people you were about to spend the next few weeks working alongside and you quickly become comfortable around everyone.

During the 3 weeks I was on the project I was lucky enough to work on many boats and see so many pilot whales, atlantic spotted dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and turtles. I can’t even put into words just how amazing spotting your first pilot whale is, it is an experience I will never be able to forget, getting so close to the whales and getting to see them interact with one another is something I never got bored of seeing. I was fortunate enough to be able to witness a kindergarten, where the adults surround the calves, allowing them to play with each other. Whilst on the boats we take note of the interaction, logging things such as the location, how large the group is, their behaviour and weather conditions which we then log onto the database back at home. I really enjoyed photographing the whales especially as they get close to the boats and got some really good fin ID photos in order to identify the whales that we had seen whilst also capturing memories. Although we were on the boats to work, they were always good fun and the crew on all of the boats were really friendly, teaching us some Spanish and facts about the whales and dolphins. Depending on what boat you worked on you also got the opportunity to jump into the sea, which was the best feeling after being in 35 degree heat. 

Back home the fun never ended, movie night, chilling in the sun, playing with our inflatable orca in the pool and excursions in our free time. Whilst on the project I went diving at turtle bay where I was able to complete my introduction to open water course whilst swimming with giant turtles, the money park, and also spent the day at Siam waterpark with all of the other volunteers.  

One of the best things about the project is the people you meet and friendships you make, making your experience even more enjoyable. Not only do you gain some incredible experience working in conservation and learning about the whales and dolphins and making a difference, but you are able to make life long memories and grow as a person. Our project coordinator Xiana was also amazing and helpful in every way, you were able to have a laugh with her and she was always there when you needed something, she was always helpful and laughed the least when I told her I fell off a boat twice. 

I can’t explain how amazing my journey has been and was absolutely gutted when I left (there were tears). What I will take away from this project is not only the experiences and knowledge I have gained but also the memories and friendships I have made. 

By Georgia - Whale and Dolphin Conservation Volunteer

Find out more about Frontier's Whale & Dolphin Conservation Project in Tenerife.

Check out what volunteers in Tenerife are up to right now!

Thursday
Jul302015

Frontier Tenerife Whale and Dolphin Project

Upon my arrival at the volunteer house in Tenerife I was welcomed in straight away by my fellow volunteers and Xiana,my project co-ordinator. Many of the volunteers had been there for a few weeks before. I was the first male on the project and couldn't wait to get started.


My first day consisted of household tasks such as preparing the house, cooking duties and the project briefing. To learn the different species and what I would be observing furthered my excitement even more. Although the project was new, it had already had a very good amount of planning and preparation behind it from the volunteer co-ordinator and Tracey who was a volunteer but was now working as a project assistant to Xiana.

Upon looking at the rota I was very excited to see that I was on four different boat trips throughout the week observing dolphins and pilot whales. The previous year I had undertaken another project with Frontier with the olive ridley sea turtles in Mexico, so my knowledge and CV was being filled with valuable field experience which will help my career into marine biology.


Everyday on the boats was amazing! To have the open ocean in front of you, the sea breeze, amazing crew, fellow volunteers and of course the pilot whales, made me realise that this is living of the highest order. Upon returning to the house, I had to input my data and recording any photographs we had taken. This allowed us to track the different pods, recording individual pod members and hopefully stand for higher conservation methods in the future for these majestic animals of the ocean.


Even though I was only on the project for a week I was amazed at how quickly everyone worked together, respected each other's cultures and backgrounds and most importantly shared a passion for marine cetaceans. I have made some lifelong friends and even though we will probably never all be together again, I believe that the best photographs are the ones that we create in our memories. I certainly have a bucket load of which I'll never forget.

With smiles and thanks

Damion Vincent - Whale and Dolphin Conservation Volunteer

Find out more about Frontier's Whale & Dolphin Conservation Project in Tenerife.

Check out what volunteers in Tenerife are up to right now!

Tuesday
Jul282015

My Volunteer Experience with Frontier

Before embarking on the volunteering experience with Frontier’s Dolphin and Whale Conservation program, I was an apprehensive and nervous seventeen year old girl travelling alone to take part in something of which I had little knowledge. I study the subject of Biology in school and enjoy it very much, however the sub-topic of marine animals or marine conservation had never surfaced. I briefly touched on it in geography which introduced me to the importance surrounding environmental protection spurring me on to apply for this program.

Of course the setting of this program is in the gorgeous and vibrant Spanish speaking Tenerife located in the Canary Island causing the entire experience to be that much more enjoyable and exotic. Although I was not equipped with the prior knowledge to enable me to recite the different species of dolphins and whales, I threw myself into the opportunity given to me head first and I am now undoubtedly grateful for the unforgettable journey I have had.

I arrived at the South Airport at about 23:00 on Sunday night and was warmly greeted by the head supervisor Xiana. We arrived at a lovely residential complex with an outdoor communal swimming pool and a house that resembled a kind of luxury student home. I immediately met all the girls who had arrived that day and who had arrived in the weeks beforehand. I was surprised at how quickly I settled. All the new people were placed into one room in bunk beds which honestly made for great fun and constant laughter throughout the week.

On the first Monday we were all briefed on how to collect data on the dolphins and whales sighted. Essentially, we had to ask certain tour boats for their permission to travel on their boats and record the GPS, the species and quantity of the marine activity. Before we started going out on the boats, we were given the Monday to read scientific articles and explore the area in which we were staying. What I particularly loved was the amount of independence the program forced me to have. I had to buy my own groceries, wash my own clothing, collect and input my own data and principally be my own person. By the end of the first week I felt as if the Frontier volunteer way of life had become second nature.

I adored travelling on the tourist boats, especially the Peter Pan which is a ship modelled from the ship in the children’s movie. On that particular boat you have the opportunity to jump into the clear, warm turquoise water and float for half an hour in complete peace. Seeing the bottlenose dolphins and the numerous pilot whales was also an incredible sight to see. I had never been near anything of the sort where the marine species are swimming playfully next to the boats with even some cross-species interaction! I remember being stunned in amazement as I watched the bottlenose dolphins jumping in and out of the water whilst the pilot whales travelled calmly in large groups sometimes accompanied by the odd family of turtles swimming by.

What I loved about this particular volunteer experience is that it enabled me to have a lot of freedom to organise and achieve the things that I wanted to do. For example I climbed Mount Teide with a group of friends I had made on camp, which was without exaggeration, one of the best days of my life. The top of the mountain was utterly stunning with panoramic views that are simply indescribable. To contrast with that we were also given the opportunity to go out at night and experience the Tenerife night life scene which was absolutely brilliant time.

To anyone thinking about applying for this experience I would strongly recommend it. I only went for two weeks but Tenerife already feels like another home. I feel more confident in myself when it comes to independence, travelling and definitely organisation. The skills that I have gained here are priceless, and the people I have met will be people I will definitely continue to see again and again. What I learnt was that it truly does not matter what academic or other background you have, as long as you remain enthusiastic and open minded to the experiences that can fly your way.  

By Jessica Jones - Whale and Dolphin Conservation Volunteer

Find out more about Frontier's Whale & Dolphin Conservation Project in Tenerife.

Check out what volunteers in Tenerife are up to right now!

Tuesday
Jul282015

Whale and Dolphin Data Collection

On arrival in Tenerife there seemed to be slight ambiguity as to what to expect on board the whale watching vessels, the construct of the project was fairly fresh as the project was in the early stages resembling grassroots.

This was refreshingly new to me as previously conservation remained merely a continuation of collective efforts of researchers before, however being faced with an active, more dynamic participation has given the project an additional dimension.  

Whilst on board the whale watching vessels, each volunteer was paired with a partner for data collection including fin ID images for cataloguing. Observing the waters initially seemed fruitless with few results in fairly calm waters yet after 45 minutes we were virtually surrounded by a sea teeming with cetaceans.  Dolphins were spotted from the bow, immediately the crew coerced us to observe from the front of the boat.  Our attempts of harvesting such data were quickly abandoned.

Deducing the whereabouts of the animals proved exceedingly difficult, as quickly as they breached, riding the surf of the travelling boat, they recovered their elusive habit. As a consequence of witnessing these creatures on our first outing, this sighting served as a stark reminder of the motivations of undertaking conservation practices such as Frontiers cetacean conservation project and at a minimum impact an ardent memory compelling enough in its content for continued support for preservation of the marine ecosystems.

One of the most dramatic sites I had the privilege to witness was an interaction between a Short-finned Pilot whale adult female and her calf, as we were watching the pair appeared in stealth alongside the boat , both myself and Tiph failed to comprehend the proximity we shared with the couple, having previously witnessed sperm whales, witnessing the intimacy between mother and infant retains an incomparable charm as the initiation of a life cycle untainted by human constraint, yet sharing a sight with the captivated passengers provides an unparalleled sensation of scientific excitement.

A pivotal aspect of the project in catalysing relations with volunteers, the simplicity in sharing the motivations of each individual that strived to engage in the project and sharing responsibilities within the house brings individuals to friendships that extend beyond the boundaries of the project environment.

The component of public engagement within conservation efforts of the project was completely different; in all honesty I previously possessed reservations with involvement of the visitors of the island as a driver in conservation, as I have undertaken conservation where efforts to establish public cohesion seemed to have a glass roof.  I certainly will admit I have been shocked by the capacity the general public in their concern for the status of the animals below the surface of the resort boundaries.  I’ve realised there is great promise in the liaison with such individuals and through conversations whilst on board, there is far more substance in the excursions to peruse the animals than merely for a holiday pass time.

By Beth - Whale and Dolphin Conservation Volunteer

Find out more about Frontier's Whale & Dolphin Conservation Project in Tenerife.

Check out what volunteers in Tenerife are up to right now!

Friday
Jul172015

My Tenerife Experience

The experience of Tenerife is one I will never forget, and one I know has had a deeply significant impact on my life.

I arrived at the Frontier house knowing no one, yet within seconds it felt as if I was already home. Every volunteer is united to the others by a shared sense of belonging and desire; the goal of conserving wildlife and learning more about the world.

It's surprising how much you learn when you're out on project, even by the end of day one I was full of facts about pilot whales and bottle nose dolphins, it was almost impossible to comprehend the vast array of knowledge I had before I had even set out on the boats.

When it came to my first time on the boats on Tuesday morning, I could hardly contain my excitement. Getting out to sea, and seeing the whales in such a close proximity was breath-taking- I was even lucky enough to see a fin whale, something that is incredibly rare to see in the waters surrounding Tenerife.  *(Short-finned Pilot Whale) That for me was a defining moment on the trip: it made me so glad that I had taken the plunge and gone out on my own to explore the world, for the rewards it brought me were more than I could have ever envisioned.

Whilst out on project, we also got to experience the local festivals, most notably San Juan. It was immense: thousands of people crowded the streets, a clear indicator of the strong community ties between those living on the island. This gave me hope that if one individual could be convinced to serve in the plight to preserve the delicate marine life that roamed in the waters surrounding them, then there was a chance that the whole community could be convinced to join in the effort of conservation


The data we collected on the projects will hopefully be used to help the local captains and conservation groups identify the native whales and their families, which is so important in the battle to conserve the species. Every image, video and comment from the captain is important in raising awareness; conservation must always be a local community effort in order for it to be truly effective.

One of the most incredible things for me about the project was the people I met. I can honestly say that I have made friends for life, and hope to keep in contact with them for many years to come. That sense of unity does not go away once the project is over, and neither does that desire to preserve marine life.

The Tenerife project has been one of the best experiences of my life, and has inspired me to go out and make a difference in the world- only then can things start to change.

By Charlotte Mann

Find out more about Frontier's Whale & Dolphin Conservation Project in Tenerife.

Check out what volunteers in Tenerife are up to right now!

Friday
Jul172015

Whales, Friends, Food and Fun!

So it's been a week since I arrived here at the whale and dolphin conservation in Tenerife and so far I've had such a amazing time.

We started the week with a introductory meeting where we got to know Xiana, the project co-ordinator, and also what it was that we would be doing with our time here. This briefing was our first insight of the relations we would be seeing here and how we would collect data. Although trying to remember all the species we may see out on the boats seemed overwhelming at first, it helped me so much on my first boat trip.

So far I have been on 3 different whale and dolphin boats and I have seen many pilot whales and bottlenose dolphins. When out on the boats we photograph the species we see, specifically pilot whales as these cetaceans are non-migrating and are also easier to take photos of as they travel quite slowly compared to dolphins.

Pilot whales are also data-deficient even though there is over 300 in Tenerife. To collect data we record key points of each interaction such as start and end time of each interaction, the GPS co-ordinates, species, how many adults and calves there are with each group, the behavior of the animal and finally the environment around for example – sea state, cloud coverage.

After we have returned to the house we enter our data into the data base and import pictures that are liked to this interaction. We try to take clear fin pictures so we can identify which whale has been spotted where and which group it is in.

Although the majority of my time here has been collecting data on cetaceans in Tenerife and encouraging members of the public to sign a whaling ban petition, there is also time to develop as a person.

At the frontier house we all work as a team and so take it in turns to cook. Although I was apprehensive at first I am really glad that I have been a part of cooking duties as I have learnt to cook many dishes from other volunteers and Xiana which I can take home with me. There is also many opportunities to go out and do excursions around the national park, mount Teidi, scuba diving, and many more.

Finally the most important thing for me that I will take form this experience is the friendships and bonds I have made with the other volunteers. I have mixed with people from all sorts of backgrounds and cultures that I would have previously, back at home in Liverpool never had the chance to meet. Through these friendships I have grown and developed as a person and I hope to keep in touch with them all!

By Bethan Blanchfield - Whale and Dolphin Conservation Volunteer

Find out more about Frontier's Whale & Dolphin Conservation Project in Tenerife.

Check out what volunteers in Tenerife are up to right now!

Thursday
Jul162015

My Journey To Become The Assistant Project Coodinator 

Everyone’s life is a journey, but for some it takes a long time to realise which path you wish to take and sometimes it involves retreating and trying a new direction. For some, they find their journey by accident and some seek theirs out. Along the way there a triumphs and pit falls, but nothing should stop us in achieving what our life holds for us.

My journey began in February 2015. It started with a holiday to Tenerife, after being on holidays before, this was something totally different, it changed my look on the path I had already chosen, it made me realise I had to turn around and try something else.

Tenerife is an incredible island, the biggest out of the 7 Canary Islands and extremely close to Morocco with endemic plants and lizards.
 
I decided a 10 night holiday would be good for me after 12 months of working flat out in my job as a cook, which I originally believed to be my profession. Currently this has been my job for 7 years, and the past 2 to 3, I’ve felt something is not quite right, like something felt out of place.

When in Tenerife on holiday we did many excursions including going in a jeep up mount Teide, which you cannot describe just how beautiful it is, breathtaking is an understatement of its beauty. On other excursions as well I felt like something belonged, something about this island felt right to me, but I couldn’t particularly put my finger on it. On the plane home I knew that my journey was to work along-side animals and look into moving abroad, hopefully to Tenerife. 

On leaving the island and getting home almost straight away I began searching for volunteer jobs within animal care, conservation etc. Unfortunately to work with animals unless you go to university or want to be a vet, around my home town in Birmingham it’s difficult to get a paid job, so i knew a few years ahead of pure graft was needed to get to where i wanted to be. After emailing around country parks, RSPCA and centres most got back to me regretting to inform me there was no volunteer placements available but they would keep my details on record. Then I found a wesbite that looked positive - www.frontier.ac.uk It is dedicated to volunteer work all around the world, involving animals, teaching English etc.

After giving this website much thought I decided to apply for a Wildlife First-Aid & Rehabilitation course which has proven so far to be insightful and extremely interesting putting me in the right direction of what I want to achieve. After much deliberation with myself I also decided to do some volunteer work abroad and if those of you believe in fate, I feel that this was, as they had just started a project for a Dolphin and Whale Conservation in Tenerife, so immediately I felt this was right for me to do.

To fly alone and head to a project house full of people I didn’t know was not only scary but terrifying. After getting through the airport and the flight heading out to the house put a pit in my stomach. Getting used to the way to live wasn’t difficult though as within minutes of meeting everyone you realise everyone’s in the same boat looking to make a difference.

After one day you can easily settle in to the routines of new life away from home and with people who want to achieve similar dreams and care and are as passionate as you are. The balance between being able to see and learn the culture and do your part for the project is perfect.

In my first week I went on a whale watching boat to try and gain the data the project needed, which are identifiers of Whales and Dolphins to see, which family circles are coming around the island whether they be migratory or residential. We do this by taking full pictures of the fins but they have to very precise photos with the profile completely out the water, close and not pixelated, and clear with no shadow or sun beam.


Four of us also took a trip to Teide to do a trek, this was nothing like the previous trip, they are so passionate about their culture and about the island.  I can honestly say it has been one of the best highlights of my entire life; we were able to see a natural swimming pool, which were under rocks, just like a lagoon and we were able to jump in for a swim. The sensation was crazy as every time the tide went out it felt like you were falling and might go under water, but when the tide came back in it just pushed you higher, it was incredible. For 12 hours we were able to experience the passion and beauty of the Canarians and the island.

By the end of the first week I’d made some incredible friends, but for those who had already been here it was time for them to leave. I’m already not good with goodbyes, but this I felt was especially hard due to the fact we had lived in the same room for 1 full week. There were many tears as the taxi left but I hope I really stay in touch with these people as they’ve already made a difference in my life.

Within this project not only do you gain incredible experiences learning about conservation and how the whales and dolphins habitat should be protected you also but you meet people from all walks of life, and gain some truly good friendships. I plan to stay in touch with everyone when leaving the project and look to make more new friends along the way. This evening after the older volunteers left we gained new ones and the cycle began again, meeting new people from different areas and different lifestyles.

What I found beautiful from this trip as well is that, when I went up Mount Teide on February I held a baby goat, and going up this time I held the same goat which had grown, this was touching, knowing it was the same goat I had seen only months before. Although, everyone told me it was a different goat, haha, but I’m keeping to my own hope that it was the same one!

I can only recommend that you choose to volunteer with conservation work, but the choice is yours. I find it hard to explain in words what a journey and experience like this can do for you as a person. The laughter and the emotional rollercoaster it puts you on is like no other, something you will only learn if you brave it and get out there to strive to achieve your goals and dreams.

(Getting to see Short-finned Pilot Whales this close is an incredible opportunity, especially getting to see the babies too!)

But this is not where my journey will end and I look forward to where the future decides to take me. Recently after finishing this blog I have had the pleasure of returning to Tenerife as an Assistant Project Coordinator alongside Xiana & I cannot be happier about where my life is taking me.

By Tracey Aldridge- Assistant Project Coordinator

Find out more about Frontier's Whale & Dolphin Conservation Project in Tenerife.

Check out what volunteers in Tenerife are up to right now!