Tenerife-La Gomera Marine Area
Tenerife-La Gomera Marine Area is Europe’s first Whale Heritage Site.
Its unique resident population of pilot whales live alongside a high diversity of other cetaceans (whales, dolphins or porpoises). They inhabit a designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC), with a coastline that hosts millions of tourists every year – many of whom wish to see these majestic marine mammals in the wild.
There are 28 cetacean species to be found in the island’s waters – most migrant or seasonal – but some resident, including short-finned pilot whales and bottlenose dolphins, ensuring a year-round whale and dolphin-watching season.
Tenerife’s whale and dolphin watching industry is already one of the largest and most famous in the world, estimated to directly generate €42 million revenue annually from 1.4 million tourists. After seeing a rapid rise in recent years, there is now a recognised need to cap that growth, continue to improve standards, and encourage further collaboration between operators. A diverse range of engaged stakeholders are in place to support this process, including government departments, NGOs and scientists.
Tenerife-La Gomera Marine Area became a Certified Whale Heritage Site in January, 2021.
The site encloses approximately 2000 km2, of which 90% is marine area. The geographical area starts 2 kms inshore along the west coast of the island of Tenerife, from the village of Las Galletas at the southern corner to the village of Buenavista at the northern corner; then the area extends west all the way to 7 nautical miles past the west coast of the island of La Gomera. The site excludes most of the land of La Gomera, and only encompasses a 2 km wide strip along the coast where whale watching tours depart from.