South Africa - Great White Shark Conservation
Travel to South Africa and volunteer in the Great White shark capital of the world. Cage dive with Great Whites and collect data on many marine species for marine biology research.
|Location of Project||Gansbaai, South Africa|
|Project Length||Min 1 week - Max 12 weeks (4 weeks is the recommended stay)|
|Arrival Airport||Cape Town International (CPT)|
|Volunteer Work||Cage diving with Great White sharks, marine ecology research|
|Number of Participants||Up to 8 international volunteers|
|Age||17 - 100|
|Accommodation||Shared mini cottages for up to 4 people each|
|Support||Local in-country team and 24-hr emergency support|
|Airport Transfers||Pick from Cape Town (not from airport)|
|Transportation||To and from Cape Town|
|Equipment||Use of diving equipment, jacket, and boots|
|Internet||Shared computer and wireless network at volunteers' house|
|Guided Tour||Gansbaai and surrounding areas|
|Pre-Departure Kit||Full project details are sent following registration|
|Orientation||All necessary training will be provided upon arrival|
What's Not Included
Gansbaai (Gans Bay; Bay of Geese), South Africa is known as the Great White shark capital of the world. Just a two hour drive from Cape Town, this beautiful coastal city is home to an abundance of both land and marine wildlife. Its coastal islands are home to huge populations of seals and penguins while the channel in between them is called "Shark Alley," due to the most dense population of Great White sharks in the world. The Bay is also a vitally important breeding area for endangered Southern Right whales, which migrate from their feeding grounds in Antarctica to mate and breed here from July-December. Surrounding the bay is a pristine yet rugged landscape with rich floral biodiversity and ancient milkwood forests.
About the Project
Join leaders in eco-tourism and marine conservation by volunteering with a team of full-time marine biologists studying the Great White shark and other marine species. Participants gain the maximum from their time by working closely with biologists from the research team, and will get to experience multiple marine species in a relatively small area of sea. Southern Right whales, including calves, arrive in July and leave in December for Antarctica. Other species include Humpback whales, Bryde’s whales, Bottlenose, Pacific Humpback, and common dolphins. Great White sharks, Cape Fur seals, and African penguins are resident all year.
The two cornerstones of this project are marine conservation/research aboard a new research vessel and cage diving with sharks aboard a state-of-the-art boat operating every day, weather permitting. There are also foundations in community development and education of the surrounding population.
For participants interested in a related research-intensive internship that focuses on marine biology and ecology research (tagging, tracking, and data collection) of Great Whites and other species, explore our Shark and Marine Research Internship program.
Volunteer Work and Contribution
Every volunteer becomes completely involved in the eco-tourism (cage diving) and conservation work throughout his or her stay. Participants will learn about the biology and behaviors of the marine species in the area, including the opportunity to get up-close and personal with Great White sharks.
Time at Sea:
- Tracking sharks (dependent on weather)
- Cage diving
- 'Chum' trips - bringing sharks close to the boat to assess populations
- Some research observation on whales, dolphins, penguins, seals, or sea birds (seasonal)
Volunteers will work every day the weather permits by going out to sea and helping on the boats. Daily work is between 5-8 hours per day but volunteers are able to take off time at their discretion for resting. During inclement weather, there will be organized excursions, educational lectures, or simply free time to explore the area.
Daily work includes:
- Photo identification of species
- Data collection
- Assisting in the daily diving operations (including taking part in the dives)
- Assisting the skipper and crew in various duties
- Laying and retrieving of anchors
- Assisting with clients
- Working with local children in education and beach clean-up
- Data input
- Cleaning boats and preparing wetsuits
- Assisting the conservation trust with animal rescue
Accommodations: volunteers will be staying in 1 of 4 shared cottages within the program's facilities. Each cottage will house about 4 to 6 volunteers and include a bed linens, a bathroom, mini kitchen, and living space with heating. The complex also has a main house where the volunteer coordinators and full-time janitor are housed. The main hall also has a large communal living space, fully equipped kitchen, pool table, satellite TV, and a DVD player. There is a communal swimming pool and large garden area on the grounds of the facilities for volunteers to use as well. The complex is about a 10 to 15 minute walk from the project offices, and there is a bus and bikes for the volunteers to use for transportation as they wish. The project offices are equipped with a safe to lock up valuables if needed.
Food: light breakfast supplies (coffee, tea, cereal) are provided. Lunch is eaten aboard the boats. Volunteers are responsible for lunch, dinner, snacks, and any other personal expenses. The typical food budget for volunteers is about $90/week. The water at the accommodations is safe to drink
Laundry: laundry can be done (at an additional cost) on Monday mornings and get back on Tuesday. It gets done at the local laundromat and costs about US$1.50 per kg. Bed linens will be washed weekly.
Internet: WIFI is available throughout the accommodations
Activities beyond volunteering can be organized while in South Africa at an additional cost. These include various tours of the area, horseback riding, paintball, dirt bike/quad tours, kayaking, skydiving, and more.
- Love for marine animals
- Willingness to get hands dirty
- Work well in a team and take directions from the skipper and crew
- Travel and medical insurance
- Ability to swim
- Min age 17
- Immunizations (consult your doctor)
Here's an excerpt of Stephanie's experience:
Here's an excerpt of Martine's experience:
Here's an excerpt of Jeff's experience: