Dolphin and whale watching opportunities are often one of the draws of holidays such as cruises, but for those serious about seeing these impressive cetacean creatures in their own natural habitat, breaking apart the ocean waves and gliding across the surface, Tenerife is one of the best places in the world to go.
The whale watching industry in Tenerife is also one of the most highly regulated in the world, having a strict code of practice on the behaviour of the boats when near the whales. No less than 28 species (over one-third of all species) of whales and dolphins reside in or pass through the Canarian waters. Resident species include the Pilot whale, Risso Dolphin and Bottlenose Dolphin, which is renowned for forming attachments to species other than its own, including humans.
The Sperm whale
The Sperm whale also swims the ocean around the Canary Islands, often in schools of 20 to 25. Identified by their enormous square head, they feed on squid, fish and octopuses at extremely deep ocean levels, where, to navigate and hunt, the whales emit clicks to sense what is around them.
Whale and dolphin watching
Besides the resident species, whale and dolphin watchers may well be lucky enough to spot one or more of the 24 migratory species which pass through the waters at various times of year and with flights easy to come by throughout the year and excellent weather for the boat trips almost guaranteed, the island is perfect for these activities.
Watch for free
There are also opportunities on the island to take part in volunteer programmes to assist in the conservation of the animals. One of the most popular routes to this once-in-a-lifetime experience is through AWF (The Atlantic Whale Foundation, http://www.whalenation.org) , which offers the chance to volunteer as a research guide on whale-watching boats around the shores of Tenerife and on research projects, with weekends free to explore the island and maybe take part in activities such as … surfboarding and windsurf courses, diving courses, power boat, skippering, life guard courses, Spanish lessons, salsa dancing, water skiing, horse riding, jet skiing, marine filming and photography and walking…
2013 AWF projects include underwater filming trips to fund a whale tagging project, and an eco film festival being brought to the island from London.
For non-volunteers, there are great opportunities for paid-for whale and dolphin watching. There are various whale watching tour operators on the island but if tours are booked through www.whalesanddolphinsoftenerife.org many operators will donate a proportion of the ticket price to AWF.