Chalkmarks: Credit - Francis Pérez : IG francisperez000

FORGET the sunshine and sangria on the holiday island of Tenerife as today it becomes Europe’s first Whale Heritage Site.

The prestigious accolade makes it the only marine hub on the continent that’s recognised by the World Cetacean Alliance for offering responsible whale and dolphin watching.

When travel reopens, the title will bring an extra boost to the already popular Canary island, which saw more than six million visitors in 2019 with 1.4 million joining boat excursions.

The waters are bursting with short-finned pilot whales, sperm whales and bottlenose dolphins. The Tenerife-La Gomera Marine Area stretches from the south west of Tenerife and across to neighbouring La Gomera.

The announcement comes as Dana Point, California, also achieves WHS status – the first in the Americas. This site had already been trademarked as “The Dolphin & Whale Watching Capital of the World” for its high numbers of blue whales and dolphins.

Credit: ACEST Tenerife
Credit: ACEST Tenerife

Since launching in 2016, the Whale Heritage Site initiative has approved only two other sea-life regions. In 2019, Hervey Bay in Queensland, Australia, which is famed for its pods of migrating humpback whales, was certified as a top whale-watching destination. Also, The Bluff, in Durban, South Africa, again ideal for humpback whales, was selected for its commitment to conservation.

Elizabeth Cuevas, WHS manager at WCA, said the Tenerife region “is fast becoming a world leader in sustainable whale and dolphin watching.”

She added: “This certification will help the local community by recognising responsible whale watching practices supported by the latest research and conservation efforts.”

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