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.
Working with sharks everyday is feeling like I was actually contributing not just doing busy work! I enjoyed about various species and about conservation efforts. Of course working out in the field was also amazing but I also enjoyed the quiet days getting things sorted around the lab.
I think I was trained very well while I was at your program although I need to improve my listening skills!
This program will certainly make a difference to my future studies. I had the most amazing time and I am very sad that it has come to an end so soon! I wish that I could stay for longer! Thank you so much for everything, everyone has been so kind and incredible to work with. I have learned so much since I have been here that no doubt will help me along my way through marine bio! I am so thankful to my new Shark research family for teaching me so much and making me feel at home! I am going to miss everything about the South African Shark program! I would rate this program overall definitely as excellent!
The most important things that I have learned from the South African Shark volunteer program are for sure shark work experience and data analysing. I enjoyed the most being on the water and doing fieldwork, as well as I was amazed by the cage diving. I felt greatly integrated in the volunteer environment, where it was always a positive and encouraging attitude. It was great to get the constructive feedback and staff member were always available. I found this programme also intellectually stimulating and I learned practical knowledge during my placement. There were many outcomes emanating from this programme which will be useful for my skill development. I would strongly recommend this volunteer programme to another volunteer or a student. It all made a big difference to me and I certainly had wished that I could stay there for a longer time.
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.