Published: May 31, 2023

Location: Tenerife


Closing Date: Ongoing

Whale and Dolphin Conservation in the Canary Islands

Programme overview

Travel to Spain’s sun-drenched, subtropical island archipelago, just off the coast of Morocco. You’ll be based on the island of Tenerife and go whale and dolphin watching with volunteers from around the world, taking photographs of the animals and recording other information. Another part of your volunteer work on Tenerife island will be to create awareness among tourists around ethical whale and dolphin watching.


GVI Canary IslandsGVI Canary Islands


About the organisation

At GVI, we have been connecting thousands of change-makers, like you, with impactful environmental projects in some of the most vulnerable habitats all over the world, for over two decades. We offer an extensive range of nature conservation programs through which people from all walks of life can volunteerintern and study. Our programs are led by our partners who are local to the communities we’re based in, and focused on making a data-driven, sustainable impact. With GVI, you get access to real-life practical experience to kick-off or advance your career. We also offer immersive social development programs in communities and cultures all over the world.

We know that creating lifelong connections with like-minded global change-makers is important to you. That’s why we go to great lengths to set the scene for you – so you can enjoy the most memorable experiences together. Just ask our alumni. You’ll see that we’re serious about ethics and sustainability – we partner with expert locally-led organisations and align ourselves to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).

Over the years, we have been moved, educated and impelled by our many conservation partners. Our work with them has won numerous awards and has been featured across global media. Whilst you’re immersed in the abundant ecosystems of our locations, we don’t want you to worry about a thing. That’s why our team offers support every step of the way, taking care of the admin, logistics and health and safety on your behalf. You’re in good hands.

With the climate crisis intensifying, GVI is more determined than ever to follow our mission. By joining a GVI program, you’re not only contributing to positive change on the planet, but also within yourself. This we can guarantee: you will never be the same again.


About the programme

Want to go whale and dolphin watching in the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Want to volunteer with whales and dolphins? Want to make sure it’s done ethically? Our whale and dolphin conservation program, based on the warm-weathered island of Tenerife, might be the program for you.

Tenerife is only about three to five hours from most major European locations. It’s also one of the top locations for whale and dolphin watching. Between 20 and 28 species can be spotted here. And pilot whales and bottlenose dolphins can be seen on most days, all-year round. If you’re lucky, you could also catch sight of other species, such as Atlantic spotted dolphins, humpback whales, blue whales and killer whales.

Understandably, a popular activity for Tenerife tourists is whale and dolphin watching. But unsustainable tourism practices now threaten these species. Part of your job as a volunteer in Tenerife will be to help educate tourists about the importance of choosing an ethical whale and dolphin watching tour.

But these species are threatened by more than unsustainable tourism practices. As a result, many species of whales and dolphins are listed as endangered, vulnerable or near threatened. But, several are also classified as data deficient, meaning that information about their populations is lacking.

You’ll help to change this. Part of your role will be to spend time on a boat with other international volunteers and observe whales and dolphins in their natural habitat. You’ll take photographs and record their numbers and behaviours. You’ll also spend time on local beaches, where you’ll help to clean them and record environmental factors that might affect the health of marine life.

The information you collect will be used by local organisations to make decisions about setting and enforcing environmental policies. It will also be used by local and international organisations to learn about the long-term effects of threats to whale and dolphin conservation and other marine species.

Please note that this is not a diving program, although you can go for a recreational dive during your free time.


  • Go whale watching and see wild dolphins in their natural habitat.
  • Contribute directly to effective whale and dolphin conservation efforts.
  • Work towards the protection of endangered, vulnerable and threatened marine species.
  • Enjoy Tenerife island’s many beaches. Go diving, kayaking, hiking or island hopping among the other Canary Islands.
  • Live and work with other volunteers from around the world who share your interest in marine conservation and adventure travel.



Our base in the Canary Islands is located on the island of Tenerife. With amazing views and waters teeming with megafauna, there are loads of hikes, as well as dormant and active volcanoes. The island itself is home to a variety of microclimates, such as cloud forests, jungles, deserts and tundra.

A 3-minute walk from the marina of Puerto Colón, our base overlooks the ocean, has loads of nearby amenities and facilities, as well as many restaurants and bars. From the harbour visitors can board one of Tenerife’s famous whale and dolphin watching tours. We’re situated near the town of Costa Adeje, an area popular with tourists. There is also a large shopping mall called Siam about 20 minutes away.

The base is basic but comfortable and is split across two apartments, with ample space for training, working through project data, or just relaxing after a busy day. We cultivate a family atmosphere on base. Cooking and tidying duties are shared on a rotation basis amongst staff and participants. There is also a pool on base.



1 – 4 weeks.


Costs and pre-requisites

Starting from 1 week – £1,795.

No prior knowledge or experience is required – our trained field team will provide you with all the training you need when you join your project. Some of our diving programs require participants to be PADI Open Water certified prior to joining, please contact your enrolment manager for more information. There is no age limit to join our projects and in fact, our oldest participant to date was 80! Our projects do have a minimum age of 18, with the exception of our under 18 projects that are specifically designed for 15-17 year olds and our family programs for 14+ when accompanied by a guardian.


What’s included

  • 24-hour emergency desk
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All project equipment
  • Food (except on long-term internship placements
  • Safe and basic accommodation (usually shared)


How to apply

To find out more and apply, please visit the GVI website: Whale and Dolphin Conservation in the Canary Islands | GVI Planet