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A Day in the Life at AWF

So, you’ve decided to take the plunge and come out to Tenerife to experience firsthand what it is like to volunteer with AWF.

GREAT!

This post will give you an idea of what it’s like, a snapshot of the day in the life of an AWF volunteer.

The first couple of days as a volunteer serve as the induction period, where volunteers learn about expectations at AWF, what they will be doing as volunteers, and about the various research and educational projects that they can dedicate their energy to during their time at the facility.

Boat Days

For days that the volunteers are scheduled to be on the whale watching boats, wake up is around 7-7:30, depending on how much time the individual needs to get ready in the morning. Our driver takes two van loads of volunteers to our Visitor Centre in Puerto Colon, at 8:00 and 8:30.

Boat trips start between 9:30 and 10:30, and last from 2 to 5 hours, depending on the boat and the specific trip. Coordinators get the volunteers situated on different boats and walk them to the docks.

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Each boat has a different atmosphere, but the general components of the trip are the same for each of the whale-watching companies. Volunteers will collect data in each cetacean interaction; whether it be bottlenose dolphin, pilot whale (the two most common species found on tours) or a migratory species of whale or dolphin, such as a Bryde’s Whale, Atlantic Spotted Dolphin or even rare species such as Blue or Fin Whale.

On the boats, it’s crucial that volunteers not only collect data, but interact with interested tourists to spread knowledge about the importance of ocean and cetacean conservation. We have educational resources in all the folders that volunteers take aboard the boats, and oftentimes we have anti-whaling or anti-captivity petitions for people to sign to take action. Volunteers are also vital for our #AWFdelfie campaign, a social media campaign designed to get people involved in spreading the word about the importance of conservation.

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We assist the crew on the boats by helping with cleaning and taking out the bins at the end of the cruise. Almost always, volunteers are able to eat the provided meal on the boat after the tourists have gone through the buffet line.

After all the boats are back in the port for the day, volunteers meet in the visitor centre. Using the computers down there, they can enter their data and fin shots if time allows. Pick-ups to go back to the house in Arona start around 5:30. Volunteers are scheduled to be on the boats 3-4 days a week.

House Days

On days in the house, volunteers must be ready at 9:00 for a cleaning meeting, where daily cleaning tasks are divided up. Cleaning takes 45 minutes-1 hour. After, the house group of the day meets in the research room with a coordinator to discuss and set goals for the day. For volunteers who are at AWF as part of their university or college studies, these days are perfect for doing work on personal projects, such as writing a dissertation. If volunteers do not come to AWF with a personal project, the coordinator can help them find a project they would like to contribute to and work on for the day. Volunteers can take a long lunch break to walk into town to buy food or cook in our kitchen. The day ends around 5:30/6 when the boat volunteers return for the day.

 

Dinner is cooked by coordinators or volunteers every night and is served around 7:30. Two volunteers clean up each night (on a rotation basis) and a brief evening meeting follows. After that, volunteers are welcome to work on personal projects, relax in our Dojo, go out for drinks in Arona, or do whatever else they like!

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AWF Delfies Campaign

One of the most fundamental aspect of the Atlantic Whale Foundation is our commitment to raising awareness about illegal whaling. We’ve launched our social media campaign, #AWFdelfies, in order to educate tourists on whale watching boats about the illegal whaling activity that still continues to this day, despite the ban that has been in place since 1986.

The goal of the #AWFdelfies campaign is to get the tourists involved and interested in taking action. The volunteers circulate petitions on the whale-watching boats, answer any questions the tourists may have, and then ask for permission to take their photo with our delfie sticks, which we then share on our social media pages. This gives them the opportunity to tag themselves and share the photo, further spreading the word about cetacean conservation.

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Welcome to the AWF Blog!

This is the inaugural post for the Atlantic Whale Foundation blog, the first of many posts to highlight the volunteering experience in Tenerife for the Atlantic Whale Foundation (AWF).

The Atlantic Whale Foundation is a UK based charity organisation, founded to continue the works of Proyecto Ambiental Tenerife, a Spanish environmental agency. The AWF was founded over 20 years ago, running a volunteer programme on the island in conjunction with whale watching boats on the south side of Tenerife.

In addition to collecting behavioural and migratory data on board the boats, the volunteers contribute to the goals of the foundation by educating the tourists on the importance of ocean conservation, taking a stand against illegal commercial whaling, and spreading the word about the importance of cetacean conservation.

The AWF also collaborates with cetacean based projects across the Atlantic, contributing to organisations with research, conservation, or educational missions.

For more information, and to apply to become a volunteer, check out our official website

http://www.whalenation.org

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