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The Gap Year Blog

Emma Hak-Kovacs | Tenerife Whale and Dolphin Conservation

25 Jul 2018 11:30 AM

With a view to dip her toes into conservation volunteering for the first time, Emma spent two weeks on the Tenerife Whale and Dolphin project. Here's how she got on!

1. Why did you choose this particular project?

As I’m under 18, finding a volunteering experience can be a difficult task. I had spent months researching and asking around, when one day I stumbled across Frontier's website. I've always had a love for animals and been as involved with conservation efforts as possible, so the Whale and Dolphin conservation in Tenerife seemed like the perfect opportunity!

2. What kind of work and activities did you do during your project?

On the project, we did a variety of activities including community beach cleans, coastal surveys and boat trips to observe cetaceans in the wild. Alongside the volunteer and research work, we also had chores around the house on a daily basis - such as cooking and cleaning.

3. How did the culture differ to home? What were the local people like?

Of course, we also had a lot of downtime. The volunteer house was in a great location that made exploring really
easy. My favourite places to go included the natural pools in Los Abrigos and the busy beach of Los Cristianos.

4. What was the accommodation like? What were the staff and other volunteers like?

While I did meet many friendly locals and tourists, the best people I got to know where the staff and other volunteers. In each if my two weeks, there were about 30 people living in the house. Everyone was from a different background and there was a large variety of ages. The difference in cultures made all conversations and hangouts interesting.

Photo Credit: Emma Hak-Kovacs

5. What was the most amazing moment and what’s your best memory?

Over the course of my two weeks in Tenerife, I have too many good memories to pick a favourite one. One of the most outstanding ones, however, was seeing the fin of a dolphin for the first time - it absolutely took my breath away. I didn't only leave the project with new experiences and understanding of conservation and wildlife but I also met so many amazing people. Spending time with everyone (playing cards, watching a movie, going out to eat) was one of the most enjoyable parts of the project. Everyone was so different but we all had one thing in common - a want to better the world.

6. Do you feel the work you were doing was worthwhile?

Since the work we did was data collection, it took many questions and lots of curiosity to figure out why we were doing what we were. The beach made me feel the most involved in conservation, since collecting over 8 bags of garbage in the span of an hour shower the obvious difference we were making for the planet and wildlife in the area.

7. What sort of wildlife did you encounter?

When out on boat trips, it is expected to have encounters with short finned pilot whales and bottlenose dolphins, since both of these are resident species. I was also lucky enough to spot a few sea turtles and observe an encounter of a large pod of common dolphins - a species that is rarer in Tenerife.

Photo Credit: Emma Hak-Kovacs

8. What were you hoping to learn while on project and have you achieved those goals?

Before entering the project, I was just hoping to get a better understanding of the types of conservation and work with animals. My time proved to be a great experience that taught me a lot about future possibilities.

9.  Any tips and advice you might like to pass on to future volunteers?

Enthusiasm and curiosity can take you a long way. It can get very hot in Tenerife and there are some nights where you don't get a lot of rest so you just feel like staying in bed all day. Just remember that you are helping to protect amazing wildlife and are playing a part in building a better future.

10.  What do you have planned next?

I still have one more year left of high school, after which I hope to study wildlife conservation or environmental sustainability at university. I don't have my next volunteer trip planned yet but I'm excited to continue to make a difference!

By Emma Hak-Kovacs - Tenerife Whale and Dolphin Conservation Volunteer

Frontier runs terrestrial & marine conservation, community, teaching and adventure projects in over 50 countries - join us and explore the world!