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.
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 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.
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)
- Photo identification of species
- 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
Please note that volunteer activities can change at any time due to the needs of the project.
Please take note of the project's 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)
- It is highly recommended to bring seasickness tablets, as there is a lot of work to be done at sea.
Volunteer Add-ons (Not Included):
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
- Assisting clients with life jackets on the eco-trip vessel
- Data Capturing
- Boat preparation and cleaning
Please note: 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.