Menu
Main Menu

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 shark cage diving with great white sharks so they can enjoy the excitement and feel the power of these animals for themselves while being educated by the marine biologist on board. This project also has a whale eco-tourism business and a penguin and seabird sanctuary, both of which you can be involved in. 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.
  
It is important to remember that we are working with wildlife and nature.  We recommend 2-4 week stays to make sure you spend enough time on the sea in case of bad weather days that we can’t go to sea.  If you join us for a one week stay, you might be very disappointed if you miss  2 days on the sea due to the weather conditions.  

icon_location
Location of the Project:  Gansbaai, South Africa
icon_length
Project length:  Min 1 week - Max 12 weeks (It is important to remember that we are working with wildlife and nature. We recommend a 2-4 week stay to make sure you spend enough time on the sea in case of bad weather days that you can’t go to sea. If you join us for a one week stay, you might be very disappointed if you miss out 2 days on the sea due to the weather conditions.)
icon_transfers
Arrival Airport:  Cape Town International Airport (CPT)
icon_highlights
Volunteer Work:  Marine conservation, research
Age:  18-80
icon_participants
Number of Volunteers:  Up to 20 international volunteers
icon_notes
Important Note:  Diving equipment, jacket, and boots are provided. Guided tour of Gansbaai and the surrounding areas included.

What's Included

icon_accomodation
Accommodations:  Volunteers will stay in cottages for up to six people per cottage
Food:  Breakfast and lunches are provided when on vessel
icon_transfers
Airport Transfers:  Pick up from Cape Town City Center (Note - not from the airport)
icon_insurance
Insurance:  Comprehensive travel health insurance with volunteer abroad coverage
icon_support
Support:  Local in-country team and 24-hour emergency support

What's not Included

Flights, telephone use, dinner (~$90/week), personal expenses, visa *Depending on arrival date and time - volunteers will 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 one of the last remaining colonies of endangered African 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 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.

As a volunteer on this project you will be completely involved in 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, Humpback 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. Volunteers can also sign up to support the activities at the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary or join a whale watching trip as part of their daily tasks (pending availability).

Time at Sea:

  • Shark Cage diving
  • Tourism education and helping tourists on board
  • Population assessments of great white sharks  through photographing fin ID’s, assisting with environmental data using a YSI, seabird data and other observational tasks as required 
  • Tagging and tracking white sharks happens depending on research schedule and volunteers are accommodated on these trips
  • Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV) studies take place quartlerly off the research boat 
  • Some research observation on whales, dolphins, penguins, seals, or seabirds (seasonal)

Daily work includes:
  • 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-ups as needed
  • Data input as needed
  • Cleaning boats and preparing wetsuits
  • Photo identification of species
  • Helping out at the seabird rehabilitation center
  • Supporting various conservation projects

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 and wetsuits or working with local children to clean up the beach. You will work every day, weather permitting, for about 5-8 hours per day. During inclement weather, there will be organized excursions, or simply free time to explore the area.

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. 
 

Internet
Internet:  WiFi is available throughout the accommodations. There is a shared computer and wireless network available at the volunteer houses.
Laundry
Laundry:  Laundry can be sent away twice weekly. It is a same-day service for a small fee (about US$1.50 per kg). Bed linens will be washed weekly.
Accommodations
Accommodations:  You will be staying in 1 of 4 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 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 minibus for the volunteers for all program activities. Each cottage is 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.

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/ Volunteers should be physically fit
  • Minimum age of 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 (Included):

African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary: Volunteers 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: Whale trips (June to November) and eco trips throughout the year are conducted by the partner company and 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 and educating ecotourists
  • 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. 

Volunteer Experiences
Welcome back. Please Log In