Published: November 1, 2022

Location: Tenerife


Closing Date: Ongoing

Marine Biology Internship in the Canary Islands

Programme overview

Gain experience in marine science and conservation by joining our marine biology internship based on the tropical island of Tenerife. Learn how to collect data on populations of cetaceans and analyse it for trends. Find out how individuals are tracked using dorsal fin photography. Your work will contribute to efforts to understand how these marine mammals are affected by whale and dolphin watching tours, fishing and other local or global human activities.


Marine Biology Internship in the Canary Islands_GVIMarine Biology Internship in the Canary Islands_GVI


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 gain experience in marine science research and conservation? Need to complete a marine biology internship as part of your degree program? Interested in cetacean research and conservation?

Join us to intern abroad in the southern Spanish archipelago of the Canary Islands, just off the coast of Morocco. The Canary Islands are the ideal location for conducting research on cetacean species because they are numerous here. The area is also popular with tourists looking to view these marine mammals. This means marine biologists can study the effect tourism has on these animals too.

Your main role will be to help solve the data deficiency issue in cetacean studies. You’ll also be contributing to studying the effects of tourism on these and other marine species, as well as other threats to marine life such as unsustainable fishing, tourism, climate change and marine pollution.

You’ll observe the animals, taking note of their numbers and the interactions they have with other animals and marine vessels. Photographing the dorsal fins of the animals, for later photo-identification, will also be part of your role. You’ll also be surveying coastal areas and recording information such as weather conditions, fishing activities and boat traffic.

After you’ve collected your observations and photographs, you’ll learn how to correctly input them into a database. You’ll learn how this data is analysed to test hypotheses about cetacean migration patterns and other behaviours, and how human activities affect these and other marine mammals. Importantly, you’ll find out how this data is used by the local government to make decisions about environmental policies.

You’ll also gain experience in engaging tourists in conservation activities, by participating in programs that encourage visitors to select ethical whale and dolphin watching tours. Participating in beach cleanups is also part of this internship, allowing you to gain insight into coastal pollution in a popular holiday destination.

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


  • Gain experience in marine biology and conservation.
  • Master technical skills such as data collection and analysis in the context of marine science and research.
  • Develop people skills that are important in the field of marine biology such as intercultural collaboration and leadership.
  • Learn how data is used by local and international organisations to make decisions about environmental policies.
  • Work alongside professional marine biologists and conservationists.



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.

Within easy travelling distance from the marina of Puerto Colón, our base overlooks the ocean, and 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.

Depending on the weather conditions, you can look forward to boat trips on the Atlantic Ocean where we monitor the whales and dolphins living around Tenerife. On other days, you might collect data on other marine species or conduct beach surveys, plastic pollution cleanups, or environmental awareness sessions with tourists visiting Tenerife. You’ll often start your mornings early with training, carrying out surveys, or capturing collected data from marine research. Evenings are spent enjoying a meal and being debriefed on the activities of the day. Afterwards, there’s time to sit back and relax while chatting with your fellow participants. During free time on base, participants play card games or chess, read, relax, or watch documentaries. There is a billiards centre next door where team members enjoy hanging out in their free time.



4 – 12 weeks.


Costs and pre-requisites

Starting from 4 weeks – £2,845.

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: Marine Biology Internship in the Canary Islands | GVI Planet