To be a volunteer for sharks in South Africa is an excellent and life changing volunteer adventure for the sea conservation. Already in 2010 the NGO you can volunteer for has started offering science based shark volunteer program and an unforgettable experience also for conservationists. Either if being at the beginning of your marine research career, having a gap year for volunteering or looking to fulfil your passion on hands-on experience with sharks – this is your chance. Grasp after this shark volunteer conservation programme and help in their preservation. This shark volunteer opportunity runs all year round and always starts on Sunday.
Why volunteer for the mighty sharks?
How does a volunteer ‘help to a better world’ in helping the sharks in South Africa?
Sharks have evolved over 400 million years ago, about 200 million years before dinosaurs.
That alone is exciting to know when volunteering for sharks. Despite their fierce image, sharks are vulnerable animals. Their slow growth and maturity, small number of offspring make them susceptible to overexploitation, and slow to recover once depleted. Most sharks play key roles as top ocean predators who keep balance of the prey populations. Sharks maintain an overall balance in the marine ecosystems. Therefore Marine Conservation Volunteer project, especially here, in South Africa, is to volunteer for the difference and would help in taking care for the health of both: Atlantic Ocean and Indian Ocean.
Between Benguela and Agulhas, East from Cape Town, South Africa
2 weeks to 2 months
Airport of Arrival:
Cape Town International Airport (CPT), South Africa
Shark tagging, shark biometrics, shark breeding care, data collecting (also drone surveys), great white shark research, data analysing, long-lasting contribution to the research and protection for shark conservation. Along there is also a Cetacean research, as of 2012.
18 – 70
# of volunteers:
10-12 international volunteers (from USA, Canada, Australia, UK…)
To be added.
You don’t need any vaccinations for South Africa, Western Cape.
What is included?
Volunteers will be collected to and from the airport. Make sure to be at the airport meeting point by 4 p.m. LT on Sunday.
Organized and having 5 bedrooms with bunk beds and 2 bathrooms.
self catering accommodation with fully equipped kitchen. Very near the house is a food store. There is once a week transport to the bigger shops.
Volunteers must provide their own comprehensive travel health insurance with volunteer abroad coverage. Available with the VET.
To be added.
A trip to Betty’s bay penguin colony is included in your volunteer cost. Local excursions, prior or after your shark volunteer programme, include full day safaris, assistance is included. This is an excellent opportunity to see a giraffe, lion, leopard, rhino, wildebeest and many other wildlife; a birdwatching tour is also possible; a visit of Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens; Rondevlei Nature Reserve, a visit to Cape Town and more.
Local in-country team and 24h emergency support
There is a free Wi-Fi available
Flights, visa (please, check with your embassy if you need one), personal expenses (also laundry), travel and health insurance, lunches, dinners, social activities.
Estimated spending money/week:
About USD 50,00.
More info – volunteer to save the sharks.
- Minimum age: 18
- Participant must be in good physical condition and be able to swim
- Language: basic English
- Interest: enthusiastic, loving sharks, team player, willing to help in shark conservation;
- No vaccines are needed
- No police Background check is needed
Precautions must be taken with your personal belongings.
I had such a great volunteering experience with Vivamar Society in the NE Adriatic. It was my first volunteering and I absolutely loved every minute of it. The project leader is like a little guardian angel for Dolphins. Its so nice to see someone who has given up everything in order to serve something bigger than herself. We had so many great adventures to nearby towns and villages and also on the water adventures. Going out on the research boat is a thoroughly enjoyable experience, seeing dolphins in the wild is one of the best things you’ll ever see not to mention doing it on many occasions. You really get to know each dolphin by the end of your time as you spend many hours trying to spot the fin. I learn’t so much and there was never a dull moment. The food was also some of the best I’ve eaten. It was a great chance to meet people from all walks and who all share the same goals. Thank you project leads and Vivamar for all that you do and I hope that Vivamar can continue to be an Ambassador for Dolphins in the NE Adriatic.
I decided to volunteer at Costa Rica Caribbean sea turtle project because I was meeting a friend and travelling in Costa Rica for 2 weeks but wanted to spend more time in the country. It sounded like a great project that works towards helping endangered animals but also improved the local community by giving locals job opportunities. Contributing to wildlife conservation and experiencing Costa Rican outside of the popular tourist towns seemed to be a fun way to extend my stay in the country. After arriving at the project I quickly realized that it was an amazing and made a huge impact therefore I decided to return for the remainder of my summer. Deciding to volunteer ended up being the best decision I could have made, I enjoyed my time with the program more then I enjoyed my actual travel vacation that was the original reason for being in Costa Rica.
“Where to start? This is the best experience of my life; the people, the place, the nature of the work, the beautiful leatherback turtles! I added extra days as I didn’t want to leave! Considering the remoteness of the beach the facilities and food was fantastic and I liked that it was rustic. The work was hard in the humidity but rewarding and despite not seeing any hatchlings I was lucky to work with so many giant mummy turtles in the middle of the night and help dig nests to keep their babies safe from poachers. For the money I paid I think it’s definitely worth it and I’m already looking at returning! Thank you to everyone for having me at Costa Rica Caribbean sea turtle project and keep up the great work!”
Before I came to the Costa Rica Pacific side project I had never seen a sea turtle, been out of the country, or been away from my family for longer than a week. It was the scariest thing I had ever done but it was also the best decision I ever made. I learned more about myself in the three months that I spent in Costa Rica than any other time in my life.
Every day is filled with new adventures and experiences, whether we were working with turtles, in mangroves, or education. Working with the turtles was a remarkable experience that I will never forget. Coming from the desert, I have never been so close to marine life. Working with such a big beautiful animal that you pull right out of the ocean was incredible. I was so happy that I got the chance to be part of a mangrove reforestation project. Work in the mangroves is hard messy work but during your time here you get to see the seeds you planted at the beginning grow into little trees and it is all worth it. The days we got to work with the kids were always so much fun! They were always so excited to meet the “turtle people” and were always enthusiastic to learn.
I met many interesting people during my time in Costa Rica from different backgrounds. Not only people from Costa Rica but also people from all over the world. I became friends with many of the locals and became very close with the research assistants.
I very much enjoyed my time at the Costa Rica Pacific project and definitely plan on returning to Costa Rica!
The Costa Rica Pacific project caught my attention the moment I started looking for volunteer projects. Within days of starting my placement I knew the following months were going to be invaluable for my personal and professional development. Throughout the course of my placement I learned so much about sea turtles and was empowered to strengthen my ability in sharing that knowledge with others. Most importantly, I grew so much as an individual, made lifelong friendships, enjoyed many laughs, and was able to unplug and enjoy the natural beauty that the area has to offer. I’m so thankful for my experience Costa Rica Pacific project and the joy and enrichment those months brought to my life.
My experience at Costa Rica Caribbean sea turtle project was one of the best experiences I have had! Although it certainly was something out of my comfort zone, I don’t regret doing it. It opened my eyes to how prominent poaching is, and how important it is for there to be patrols to help. The people and the activities that I had to do made me feel so helpful and supportive to the community, certainly a trip that you come out from realising how much off the world you are normally secluded from. Would recommend it to everyone! Best food and everyone is so friendly and happy that you are there.
A great and memorable experience!
The time I spent with the project leader and the other volunteers was an experience I surely will never forget. You get a good insight into the life of the dolphins living in the adriatic sea and the threats that endanger them. This knowledge that we gained from this dedicated Dolphin conservation society Team we could apply directly on our trips on the research boat, while enjoying the sunset -and the dolphins of course- at the same time. On the days we didn’t visit the dolphins, a project leader showed us a part of the scienific work of dolphin research which was very interesting.
The atmosphere was relaxed the whole time, we all got along well. That’s why we also had a lot of fun during our free time which we spent snorkeling, laying at the beach and visiting some beautiful towns. I definitely recommend this volunteering project to anyone who is interested in helping the dolphins and keeping the sea healthy!
After a short search on volunteer opportunities I became quickly aware of the project for the bottlenose dolphins, which was, in my opinion, a total jackpot. From the first day on I got the feeling I was into something important. From the little tasks like washing the dishes to gardening I was always feeling the spirit. We did good work on research comparing dolphin fins on the pictures we took. In our free time we enjoyed the underwater world of the Adriatic Sea, snorkeling for hours! Of course, the most beautiful time I spent here was when we went out on our boat trip to get new pictures and data of our lovely dolphins.
I will always remember the first time when I saw a fin breaking through the surface of the sea and the joy I felt having a look into the eyes of an animal that is so intelligent and free!
I have always been into the sea and dolphins so I was really excited when I found out this project for dolphin conservation. I thought to volunteer for such a purpose would be a good thing. When I had to choose what to do for my matura, final work exam at school, I asked if I could do it about dolphins and from what they are endangered and the project leaders agreed with it.
By volunteering for dolphins I learned more about the research work. But not only this, I also had a good time during doing my work with the other volunteers.We went swimming in the sea, sunbathing at the beach or just drinking a beer and get to know each other better.
But what’s the best of all: you see dolphins in the wild. It’s so great to see them swimming in the wide ocean free and their movements. I can’t believe people are catching them and put them into an aquarium.
I would recommend this poject to everybody who wants to have a closer look at the researcher life and wants to do something good for the sea and its amazing inhabitants.
I have come to do the volonteering for dolphin conservation because I have been fascinated by the dolphins since my childhood. While volunteering we have learned so much about these wonderful creatures – and to see them LIVE in the nature was an absolute highlight!
Last but not least, especially our team was so unique because it team was the oldest ever J and we had one younger volunteer that we at once ‘adopted’ and called her »our baby«. So we have harmonized very well. We have worked together, cooked, cleaned, harvested even olives and did also the tours. Almost like in a family! We laughed until our bellies hurt! Everything fitted just perfectly! And then, of course, there is a team leader, who, by her cordial, open manner and her presence is a real personality! It is absolutely a joy, that you can, through the love to the dolphins meet even so dear people!
The Shark Conservation project in South Africa
The shark volunteer project is located eastwards from Cape Town towards Hermanus, South Africa. It offers a unique configuration and an amazing natural wildlife. The surrounding landscape offers extraordinary views and beaches along with a number of oceanic attractions, including whale watching from the shore. There is a path along the cliffs that offers spectacular views. The fields surrounding are covered in diverse wildflowers, and the breezy climate is comparable to that of the Mediterranean. Absolutely wonderful: to volunteer in shark ecology and enjoy the beauty of the nature at the same time.
This amazing shark, stingray and skate volunteer programme is dedicated to promoting the conservation and sustainable use of living marine resources through research and outreach. The leads are the group of scientists, interns and volunteer team leaders – all working to achieve a pragmatic conservation and management measures for sharks – in South Africa and broader.
Using funding from the research grants and donations, the research group works to ensure that sharks have a sustainable place in the oceans. Interns or volunteers that join the shark volunteer program know that they make a positive contribution to the research and conservation. In return the ‘marine helpers’ get an unforgettable volunteer adventure that will carry them forward in life and a career.
Whether you’re and early career scientist or are just passionate about shark conservation, the Shark Research Program might be a life changing experience and one you can never forget.
As a Shark Research Volunteer you will be expected to work long days in the fild and in the Shark lab. You will gain hands-on experience tagging sharks, collecting biological data and working on research vessels. You will also work with the team to dispel myths about sharks by helping in the shark education program.
Great White Sharks project
Volunteer and research team started a Great White Sharks project a while ago. These magnificent animals are certainly one of several iconic apex predators found in the area. They exhibit the most control over the movement ecology of smaller sharks and also marine mammals. To better understand this, the volunteer and research team has developed a non-invasive and opportunistic study on white sharks to understand the ecosystem dynamics of the marine area.
Techniques employed include:
– boat-based transect surveys
– drone surveys
– baited remote underwater video
– active and passive acoustic tracking of prey
– behavioural monitoring
A few years ago the research team undertook the volunteer marine mammal (whales and dolphins) project in the area.
The study and marine mammal volunteer program is focused on:
- to see, if the seasonal aggregation of southern right whales impacts great white shark occurrence
- How predation risk impacts the behaviour of marine mammals
- Site fidelity, habitat use, behaviour and population dynamics of cetaceans
Ecological monitoring is a key to understanding estuarine functioning, therefore with this project the volunteer and research team:
- Conducts long-term surveys on estuarine ecology
- Provide data to environmental management authorities
- Provide environmental trend data for estuarine management decisions
- Conduct macro-invertebrate surveys to assess the feasibility of using them as ecological indicators.
There is actually no typical day in this shark volunteering experience. The weather is unpredictable and so are the sea conditions. Therefore at this Shark Research volunteering you’ll need to be adaptable.
If the volunteer team will not go to sea, there is plenty to keep you busy in the Shark Lab. You will help maintain research equipments, enter data, run experiments, write your own research reports, and similar.
When it’s a field day – it’s early to rise as you will come in to the Shark house to pack field gear and head to the harbor for launch time. You will be 8 hours at sea, deploying baited remote underwater video systems, fishing for sharks, running transect surveys, following whales and dolphins, and having an AMAZING time.
Then you go back to the lab, unpack, clean gear, prepare for the next day and head home for a good night’s rest.
You will stay at the Volunteer Research Program house– at the seaside. Please note that accommodation is shared. There are 5 bedrooms equipped with bunk beds and 2 bathrooms.
Breakfasts are available but lunches and dinners you need to prepare for yourself. Breakfast items are: cereal, bread, butter, eggs, milk, coffee, tea and sugar. There is a fully equipped kitchen with fridge, freezer, over, stove and kitchen utensils available for volunteers. Food store is walking distance away, as well as walking distance from the beach.
Please let us know in advance if you have any food allergies or specific dietary requirements. The team will try to accommodate you but may ask some things to be brought with you if it is not locally available.
Internet & mobile phones:
Wi-Fi is available for free at the volunteer house as well as at the lab.
You will be able to use your own Mobile when you are connected to Wi-Fi for WhatsApp and Skype calls. A local SIM card can be purchased in town.
There is a drop-off and pick-up laundry service. Laundry can be done once a week. Laundry is charge according to weight (about USD5 per bag). Laundry must be paid on the same day.
South Africa itself is a vast land of unimaginable beauty and diversity of experiences. You almost need to combine it with further exploration, where you’ll marvel at breathtaking vistas along with your unforgettable volunteer experience, be it prior or after its commencement. The area around Hermanus is known as the best whale watching spot in the world. At Gansbaai you will find shark cage diving and in the Cape Whale Coast area are many hiking trails through Nature reserves. If you enjoy photography, the cliff path from harbour to waterfront of the research base area you will take beautiful photographs. You can choose from tours of various areas of the nearby surrounding. You can also visit Cape Town before or after your shark volunteering adventure with further amazing trip possibilities. Or if you have more time visit the fabulous South African National parks as they are set to take your breath away with its amazing wildlife. Volunteer team members will be happy to give you helpful advice on the nearby trips.