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Atlantic Whale and Dolphin Foundation

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cetacean conservation

Kayaking w/ Teno Activo

Ocean Kayaking is a popular activity among volunteers that come and work here at AWF.

We have partnered with Teno Activo  based in Los Gigantes in Tenerife for our kayaking excursions. For a very reasonable price, volunteers receive a two hour kayak rental, complete with a guided tour and photographer as well as a beer or non-alcoholic drink halfway through the journey.

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Each kayak had two people paddling, the seats were comfortable with back rests and came with one life jacket per participant. The guide also brings masks and snorkels, but we advise our volunteers to bring the ones we have at the foundation, so that they can fully enjoy a little swim during the break.

The water in this area of the island is really crystal clear, and swimming beneath the giant cliffs is an incredible experience. The ocean conditions are fairly mild, but it is a good workout for active volunteers!

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Lisanne: Why I Chose Volunteering with AWF

This weeks story brought to you by our lovely Dutch volunteer, Lisanne!

I studied Environmental Biology back home, in which I focused on ecology and the behaviour of animals. In my study I did internships about the behaviour of birds, large felids and terrestrial mammals in general, but I did not do any project about sea animals. So when I finished my study, I was looking for a project with sea animals to get more experience about the behaviour of this group of animals.

I was also looking for a long holiday in a warm place! I wanted to combine my holiday with volunteering work, but unfortunately, most volunteering work quickly gets very expensive. I found AWF just by googling and was surprised by the projects they offered and the low costs. I also really liked that it is an organisation with many students and that they organize many trips in Tenerife, such as visiting Santa Cruz and snorkelling. I felt it was everything I was looking for!

One week at Tenerife and it is still everything I was looking for 🙂 So far, I have been on the boats (with very nice crew and food), went snorkelling with the turtles at Turtle Bay, went diving for the first time (very exciting!), had much fun in the water park Siam Park and relaxed on the beach of Los Cristianos. While being on the boats, I have already spotted numerous bottlenose dolphins and short-finned pilot whales, but was also lucky enough to see common dolphins, atlantic spotted dolphins, flying fish and even a Bryde’s whale! There are many people at the AWF house and that is really nice, because there is always someone you can talk to and go with on trips to explore the island. I would definitely recommend volunteering at AWF and I am excited for the rest of my stay at Tenerife!

Bottlenose Dolphins

The waters of Tenerife are home to large family pods of resident bottlenose dolphin species. This incredible creatures are commonly spotted around the cliffs of Los Gigantes or feeding near the fish farms. They are very friendly and often interact with the boats; demonstrating a number of behaviours including wake riding, surfing or jumping right in front of the boats for the tourists to see.

Bottlenose Dolphins are the most common and well-known species of dolphin and are very intelligent creatures. They are known to display a variety of behaviours showcasing their intelligence. Some of these include mimicry, self-recognition, comprehension of artificial language, comprehension of gestures and a solid memory.

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Volunteers on the whale watching tours will have the opportunity to see bottlenose dolphins thriving in their natural habitats several times during their stay at AWF. Seeing these magical animals in the wild is an incredible experience, and it is far better than contributing to captivity companies to see artificial dolphin shows or swim with the dolphins at overpriced resorts.

There is a pod of about 34 resident individual bottlenose dolphins right here in Tenerife, and many others pass through on their own migratory routes.

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10 Ways You Can Help Save the Whales!

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed when it comes to tackling global scale environmental problems, especially when acting on the individual level. While change doesn’t always happen overnight, there are plenty of ways that individuals can get involved to help work towards conservation of the threatened species of our oceans. Every little bit helps, and without positive, conservation-focused attitudes, the world will not change for the better.

  1. Don’t support companies that profit off captivity! Take your children on whale watching tours in the ocean when on vacation instead, to see the beautiful creatures in their natural habitatscaptiv.jpg
  2. Use reusable products instead of plastic disposable ones, like water bottles and bags. Unnecessary plastic consumption has led to our oceans being saturated with garbage, which gets into fish and eventually whales and dolphins. Without humans reducing our plastic consumption, certain reports predict that there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish by 2050.
  3. Eat sustainable fish species, check out Seafood Watch to find information on which species are most sustainable to consume, and which should be avoided entirely
  4. Organise or participate in a beach clean. Sort the materials cleaned off the beach into trash and recycling. beachclean.jpg
  5. Don’t use products with harmful chemicals or microbeads. These solutions end up in the water systems and eventually the oceans, further degrading the habitat of our beautiful whales and dolphins.
  6. Donate to whale conservation organisations, such as Greenpeace or Sea Shepherd
  7. Sign a petition against illegal commercial whaling that is still happening today in Japan, and against use of gillnets in Mexico which is decimating the remaining population of the Vaquita porpoise.vaquita.jpeg
  8. Educate children on the importance of ocean and species conservation. Passing down knowledge and understanding of why we need to protect our planet is key for our future. delfie1.jpg
  9. Organise a documentary night among family and friends – watch The Cove or Blackfish to spread awareness about the harmful effects of captivity on cetaceans  
  10. Support Atlantic Whale Foundation in our mission to partner with ocean conservation projects across the Atlantic and for our research and educational programs in Tenerife! Together, we can make a difference. awf

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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