Sun, sea and short-finned pilot whales in Tenerife

Last summer, two third-year BSc Zoology students went to Tenerife to collect data on pilot whales for their final year research projects. Working with a citizen science company called Biosean and with funding from Roehampton, Jenny and Kayla worked on data collection, studying pilot whales and other marine wildlife. We asked them to write a short blog about their experiences and they kindly agreed. Read on below…

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Spectacular day 🤩 @biosean_ Field survey with students from @uni_roehampton (@kaylamay_x @xhenca) and Emma from @awdfoundation. #cooperation and #alliances are fundamentals for our organization . . . Día espectacular 🤩 Salida de campo @biosean_ con estudiantes de @uni_roehampton (@kaylamay_x @xhenca) y Emma de @awdfoundation . #Cooperación y #alianza son pilares fundamentales de nuestra organización. . . #travel #nature #marinebiology #conservation #marineecology #ecology #planetocean #blueplanet #behaviour #wildlife #pods #wildandfree #emptythetanks #outdoors #cetaceans #odontoceti #atlantic #atlantico #tenerife #canarias #natgeo #discovery #respect #saveouroceans #saveourseas #saveourplanet

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We had the wonderful opportunity to collect scientific data for our research project where we travelled to south Tenerife in the Canaries. The University of Roehampton has developed a scientific collaboration with marine biologist Misael Morales Vargas to study short-finned pilot wales. Misael, who also created Biosean, a whale-watching citizen science company, welcomed us to work alongside him and the team. It was amazing being able to see short-finned pilot whales and many other species up close in their natural habitat. This was something we’d never experienced and we constantly watched in awe regardless of whether it was our 1st or 10th time out at sea.

The trip involved collecting data during regular trips out to sea to find short-finned pilot whales and other marine wildlife. We were particularly interested in collecting data on the whales’ behaviour to allow us to investigate how they interact with each other in their social groups, how they use their habitat and how tourism is affecting their behaviour.

The weather was always amazing of course, so sunny and warm but on boat excursions we’d highly advise bringing a towel along (which we always forgot) as the waves do get a little crazy! We believe we got a true feel for life in Tenerife as the areas we worked in or visited in leisure time were very serene. Our favourite place was down in El Medano where it was less crowded with tourists. There was also a beautiful beach and an amazing market. We don’t think anyone could ever be tired of the sunsets we watched every day, or how welcoming the community and Biosean team were. Of course, data collection was the most important part, however there are many activities to do in Tenerife, tons of water sports like scuba diving for beginners, canoeing, jet skiing – highly recommend them all!

It goes without doubt to say how delighted we were to be given this opportunity where we created many connections and loved being on the Biosean boat with Misael. We hope Roehampton continues to offer this for future students.

The University of Roehampton changes lives by helping our students to develop the confidence, knowledge and values they need for a successful and fulfilling life. We produce world-class research that helps us understand the world and change it for the better.

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