Kaitlyn has always loved marine wildlife, and now studying Wildlife Conservation at university thought that Tenerife would be the best place to see her favourtie animals as well as gain some hands-on conservation experience.
1) Why did you choose this particular project?
I chose the Tenerife project because I wanted to gain some experience volunteering with marine wildlife. I have always had a love for marine life, especially dolphins and whales so thought it would be the perfect opportunity. Also, from an educational perspective, it benefitted my work for university as surveying and behaviour is a key part of some of my modules.
2) Which kind of work and activities did you do during your project?
We spent part of 3 days of the 7 that I was there on boats for roughly 2-4 hours at a time. On the boats we carried out a survey of the whales or dolphins we saw, describing what they were doing, how many we saw and the approximate ages of the individuals. We also took photos of the dorsal fins of the dolphins. When we got back to the house, we input all of the data we collected into a database on the computer. The photos were used to identify individual dolphins and to see if any of the individuals seen that day matched any in the Master Catalogue.
We also had to create and work on a project and present it to the group at the end of our trip. I chose to do mine on echolocation in the form of a PowerPoint presentation.
3) How did the culture and people differ to home, and what were the locals like?
The culture was surprisingly very different from home. I’d never been to Tenerife before, but had been to mainland Spain so expected it to be very similar. However, because we weren’t in the typical tourist hotspots (except for when on boats), the culture I saw seemed a lot more representative of what Spanish culture really was. We spent a lot of time around local people when on the bus to the ports and travelling around the island and it was always a pleasant experience. The people were all lovely and I felt very welcome.
4) What was the accommodation like?
The accommodation was fantastic. I expected it to be more of a hostel, cabin, hut, shack type building right on the coast with beds on the floor etc. But the building was like a Spanish villa. There was a great view from the balcony; it was very clean, good bathrooms, good kitchen and comfortable beds.
5) What were the staff and other volunteers like?
The staff and volunteers were brilliant. I felt very welcome from the moment I got to the house and was introduced to everyone and made some good friends. The group worked well together and I think the fact that we were all from different places and backgrounds and different ages made the group dynamic better.
6) What was your most amazing moment or your best memory?
The most amazing memory was seeing pilot whales and in the numbers we saw. Apart from that, it was travelling around the south of the island and experiencing the culture.
7) Do you feel the work you were doing was worthwhile?
Honestly, the work I did there seemed to have little impact on the wildlife I went to conserve. However, I could see the importance and I do think I just wasn’t there long enough to fully value the work we did. If I could, I would’ve stayed for at least one more week.
8) What sort of wildlife did you encounter?
Whilst out on the boats, I saw Pilot Whales. Others saw Bottlenose Dolphins whilst on their boats too. Apart from that, we saw many native birds whilst travelling around.
9) What were you hoping to learn while on project, and have you achieved those goals?
I was hoping to learn more about surveying techniques and how they are used in scientific investigations and behavioural studies. I was also hoping to learn more about travelling alone and what it all involves.
10) Any tips and advice you might like to pass on to future volunteers?
Make sure to take a good hat and sun screen, especially if you are pale like me. It gets very hot and sunny whilst out on the boats! Also, make sure to take a good camera and binoculars. It all helps in collecting reliable data and makes the experience of seeing all the cetaceans far away and up close.
11) What do you have planned next?
My plans for the future are to continue on my university course in Wildlife Conservation. I would like to travel to more countries. Next on the list is Germany or Iceland, hopefully to do some more volunteer work.
12) Anything else you would like to add?
I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Tenerife with Frontier. It was such a spontaneous trip for me, but worth every penny. The volunteers and staff were brilliant and I would definitely recommend the trip again.
Find out more about Tenerife Whale and Dolphin Conservation