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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 vast populations of seals and one of the last remaining colonies of endangered African penguins while the channel in between them is called “Shark Alley,” because of 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 marine big 5 tours) 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 of 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 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:
Daily work includes:
African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary: Volunteers have the option to assist at the sanctuary as well. Those who choose this may expect to be involved in the following tasks:
A typical day: You may educate cage divers about sharks, whales or penguins, and ongoing conservation methods before they cage dive. In the afternoon, you could clean 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 the sea. On these days, volunteers will have excursions or lectures arranged for them by the volunteer coordinators.
Internet: Wi-Fi is available throughout the accommodations. There is a shared computer and wireless network available at the volunteer houses.
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: You will stay 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, a fully equipped kitchen, pool table, satellite TV, and a DVD player. There is a communal swimming pool, bicycles, and extensive 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.
Volunteer Add-on (Included):
Whale Conservation: Whale trips and eco trips throughout the year are conducted by the partner company and volunteers will assist at a local whale tourism and conservation organization, which conducts studies on the biology and behaviors of marine species, focusing strongly 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:
Please note: This project is completely weather dependent and there will be days when the weather is too bad to go to the sea. On these days, volunteers will have excursions or lectures arranged for them by the volunteer coordinators.