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Desi and the whales

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Published: 11 January 2021

University of Sunderland in London BA (Hons) International Tourism and Hospitality Management (Top-Up) graduate Desislava Vodenicharova

For recent University of Sunderland in London graduate, Desislava Vodenicharova, conservation and sustainability are the keys to unlocking global environmental tourism.

Following her BA (Hons) International Tourism and Hospitality Management (Top-Up) course Desi, as she’s known to her friends, joined the Atlantic Whales and Dolphin Foundation in Tenerife, Spain on a work placement.

“As researchers, conservationists and generally as human beings, we have one common goal: protect the environment together and live as responsibly as we can.

I learned about the placement through my lecturers, I just couldn’t believe how great an opportunity it was.

You go on whale watching tours, observing from land, making notes on their behaviour, taking fin shots to identify them and trying to decode their communication with an underwater microphone called a hydrophone.

Other days are filled with environmental studies including plastic pollution research, mainly focused on microplastics and the impact it has on the marine ecosystem.

All the while you’re also working on your research project. Some people do films and photography exhibits, others plan educational programmes or create art installations.

Before I even left for the project, I knew I wanted to do a film and photography project on the natural habitats around Tenerife.

I want to show how important sustainable travel is in preserving our environments for future generations.

You get a lot of flexibility, which was great for me because it meant I could pursue my interests.

Using equipment the company leant me, I collected footage of our daily activities, piecing it together in the afternoons and evenings alongside the other members of the team.

I got a lot of support, learning how to use Adobe apps like Premiere Pro and Light Room.



Even though we were constantly busy, waking up even before sunrise, I didn’t find it difficult because I loved what I was doing.

For me, some of the most memorable moments were the weekends, taking advantage of the beautiful landscape around Tenerife - hiking, going on cultural trips or just spending days relaxing on black sand beaches.

I even had the chance to do water activities I’ve never tried before like diving, surfing, kite surfing, and windsurfing.

It’s amazing to see how much I’ve learned over the two months of the project.

I’ve had the chance to pick up valuable field skills and gain an appreciation for sustainability and the importance of preserving our natural world.

I’ve also made some long-lasting friendships with people who are passionate about what they do.

It’s a lot of work and you’re constantly in action, so it’s important that you care a lot about the cause.

But if you’re an adventurous personality, I would just say go for it!”

You can find out more about the Atlantic Whales and Dolphin Project on their website. They are currently recruiting for their 2021 series of courses. Take a look at the full range on the Fair Earth Foundation website.

For more information about our Tourism, Hospitality and Events degrees, visit our course pagesFind out more by following #WeAreSunLon on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.