goeco@goeco.org   |   USA: +16462404545

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 contribute to marine conservation and eco-tourism efforts in the stunning Gansbaai area.



Fast Facts

Location of ProjectGansbaai, South Africa
Project LengthMin 1 week - Max 12 weeks (4 weeks is the recommended stay)
Arrival AirportCape Town International Airport (CPT)
Volunteer WorkCage diving with Great White sharks, marine conservation
Number of Participants12 - 20 international volunteers
Age18 - 80

What's Included

AccommodationShared mini cottages for up to 4 - 6 people each
SupportLocal in-country team and 24-hr emergency support
Airport TransfersPick up from Cape Town City Center(not from airport)
Transportation To and from Cape Town City Center
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
Insurance Comprehensive travel health insurance with volunteer abroad coverage

What's Not Included

Flights, telephone use, dinner (~$90/week), personal expenses, visa
* Depending on arrival date and time - volunteers may have to organize accommodation for one night in Cape Town City Center


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 densest 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

This project places volunteers with a Fair Trade Tourism and Blue Flag certified research and eco-tourism organization devoted to promoting marine conservation and education within the community and to tourists. The two cornerstones of this project are marine conservation and research and taking tourists out to go cage diving with sharks so they can enjoy the excitement and feel the power of these animals for themselves. In addition, the project works on community development projects and education projects in the community so locals can understand the need to protect the biodiversity in the area. 


Volunteer Work and Contribution

You will be completely involved in the eco-tourism (cage diving) and conservation work throughout your stay. While working alongside marine biologists, you will learn about  the behaviors of the marine species in the area including Southern Right whales, Humpack whales, Bryde's whales and a variety dolphins. You can learn about how researchers track marine life and what data needs to be recorded. You will also assist on the tourist boat by helping cage divers and educating visitors, plus you will have the opportunity to go cage diving yourself  to get up-close and personal with Great White sharks.

Time at Sea:

  • Tracking sharks (dependent on weather and not guaranteed)
  • Cage diving
  • Tourism education and helping tourists on board
  • 'Chum' trips - bringing sharks close to the boat to assess populations (also dependent on weather and not guaranteed)
  • Some research observation on whales, dolphins, penguins, seals, or sea birds (seasonal)

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

A typical day: You may find yourself educating cage divers about sharks and ongoing conservation methods before they cage dive or spend the morning on the research boat.  In the afternoon, you could be cleaning the boat or working with local children to clean up the beach.

*Please note that volunteer activities can change at any time due to the needs of the project.

You will work every day, weather permitting, for about 5-8 hours per day.  During inclement weather, there will be organized excursions, educational lectures, or simply free time to explore the area.

Living Arrangements

Accommodations: You will be staying in 1 of 4 newly-renovated shared cottages within the project's facilities. Each cottage will house 4 to 6 volunteers and includes 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 has a large communal living space, fully equipped kitchen, pool table, satellite TV, and a DVD player. There is a communal swimming pool, bicycles, and large garden area on the grounds 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 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 including coffee, tea and cereal is provided. Lunch is provided and eaten aboard the boats. You are responsible for 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 sent out on Monday mornings and returned on Tuesday for a small fee (about US$1.50 per kg). Bed linens will be washed weekly.

Internet: WiFi is available throughout the accommodations.


Volunteer Add-ons:

African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary: Volunteers staying 4 or more weeks at the Great White Shark Conservation Project have the option to assist at the sanctuary as well (dependent on availability, number of birds at the sanctuary at any given time, and volunteer skills and experience). Those who choose this add-on may expect to be involved in the following tasks:

  • Assisting visitors
  • Handling administrative tasks at the reception desk
  • General cleaning
  • Preparing food for the sanctuary's inhabitants
  • Data capturing
  • Shadowing the staff  

Whale Conservation: Volunteers will have the option to assist at a local whale tourism and conservation organization, which conducts studies on the biology and behaviors of marine species, with a strong focus on eco-tourism, conservation efforts and education. Please note this project only operates from June-November. Those who choose this add-on may expect to be involved in the following tasks:

  • Assisting clients with life jackets on the eco-trip vessel
  • Data Capturing
  • Boat preparation and cleaning

Please notify us prior to registering if you would like to assist at the sanctuary and/or the Whale Conservation Project. 


Minimum Requirements

  • Love for marine animals
  • Willingness to get hands dirty
  • Work well in a team and take directions from the skipper and crew
  • Ability to swim
  • Min age 18
  • Immunizations (consult your doctor)


Important Notes

Please note that this project is completely weather dependent and there will be days when the weather is too bad to go to sea. On these days, volunteers will have excursions or lectures arranged for them by the volunteer coordinators. 

It is highly recommended to bring seasickness tablets, as there is a lot of work to be done at sea. 


Here's an excerpt of Giselle's experience:



"Hard work pays off, and this doesn’t go unnoticed by the amazing crew. I managed to go onto an exclusive boat trip which had less clients on board, giving me more opportunities to capture some great footage of the sharks who displayed incredible activity, breaching around six times in the space of two hours."

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!


Here's an excerpt of Karol's experience:



"From sea level as well as below the water, we got a closer look at the curious sharks that swam nearly up to the cage and it was such a thrilling experience. Besides working on the boat with tourists and the crew, I also met some incredible people that came from all walks of life and each had amazing stories to tell."

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!


Here's an excerpt of Susan's experience:


"My first trip to sea was actually aboard the Whale Whisperer. It was a cold and rainy day but I did not care, I went onto the top deck and enjoyed it! We spotted a few whales up close and saw one breaching a bit of a distance off from us, it was beautiful! Our third day in we made our first trip to sea was as a client, and the sharks were great! I had no idea I even took any decent pictures until we looked at the pictures that night. As you can see, I was inches from the teeth!"

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!


Here's an excerpt of Stephanie's experience:

  "Volunteering with GoEco has been an unforgettable experience. I knew I wanted to do the Great White Shark Conservation project as soon as I read the description online a year ago. I’ll admit I was a little skeptical seeing as how I found it online and had never previously heard of GoEco. However, it turned out to be even better than the description had depicted.!"

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!


Here's an excerpt of Martine's experience:

  "Volunteering with GoEco on the Great White shark Conservation Program has been a most rewarding experience! Being able to go out on the ocean almost every day, seeing Great Whites 20cms from your face, and helping manage a commercial shark cage diving vessel is possibly the most exciting thing I have ever done!"
Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!


Here's an excerpt of Jeff's experience:

  "This project helped me understand the biodiversity of the oceans and the Great White Shark, dispelling my fear of sharks.  It helped me decide that I need to help save our seas.  The oceans and its inhabitants are being dramatically impacted by human activity including pollution, global warming and over-fishing.  Please help save the oceans!"

Read the rest of his story on the GoEco blog!

Check out our Volunteer Blog at blog.goeco.org to read experiences written by GoEco volunteers from all over the world!



Recommended By