All year round. We ask that you arrive in Cape Town on a Sunday, to be taken down to the sharks on the Monday
For more information call Anne on +44 (0) 1892 770771. Alternatively email

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Dive with Great Whites - and help save them from extinction

Get to know, understand and protect members of the marine Big 5, spending each day out at sea contributing to an essential education and research mission. Based in what is known as the "great white capital of the world", you will become opened up to the complexities of marine conservation and develop an important understanding of these mighty creatures.

Volunteering along a beautiful stretch of South Africa's rich coastline, you will volunteer alongside the marine Big 5, comprising of whales, great white sharks, cape fur seals, dolphins and the African penguin. You'll become part of a passionate scientific research team, helping to monitor and observe the sharks in their natural habitat. Despite the fact that so many sharks are seen in this area of the world, very little is actually known about them.

In return for your hard work, you get unparalled access to sharks, being able to get into the shark cages and see them from underwater as well as from the vantage points on the boat. You will gain new insights into conservation issues, both about sharks as well as the local penguin colonies- and enjoy the amazing attractions on this rugged stretch of South African coastline.

South Africa Shark Conservation

What will I be doing?

Out on the eco-tourism and education boat every day, you will predominantly be helping out with the shark spotting (all year round) and whale watching (June to December only) trips, educating visitors about marine conservation. Your days will invariably be centred around being out at sea during the morning and early afternoon, with many supplementary lectures and trips organised and on offer later in the day.

  • Tourist trips: The research team take groups of tourists on shark and whale watching trips. You will be working alongside them, operating equipment, preparing the cage, recording data, helping with photography and looking after the passengers. You'll never tire of seeing the wildlife along this coastline - whales lifting their flukes as they dive, penguins, dolphins and, of course, sharks! You are encouraged to get involved in the diving too!
  • Monitoring: Whilst out on these trips you will help researchers in their work to identify the movement of the sharks throughout the year. This involves observing and identifying, tracking, monitoring responses, recording data and taking photographs. This research is crucial if we are to stop the continuing decline of shark populations around the world.
  • Education and boat activities: You will be given plenty of training and development, including lectures on sharks and their habits. It won't be long before you are contributing your own observations at lectures and feeling very much part of the team. Other activities include cleaning down the boats and wetsuits, data recording, photography and marketing- there are daily blogs written, so help with writing and marketing is encouraged for budding writers.
  • Extra conservation initiatives: Volunteers are also encouraged to take part in other conservation efforts, from painting penguin houses to helping out with local education programmes and doing beach clean ups. Conservation initiatives such bird surveys, shark egg collection and animal rescues are likely to feature too. These are great fun to get involved with, and really contribute to to the local community.

This project is located in a beautiful coastal region of South Africa, close to the southern-most tip of the continent! There is plenty to do during your time off, both locally and further afield. Many trips are arranged for you such as trips to local vineyards, neighbouring town and also the beach. There is a vibrant lifestyle in this area of South Africa, with lots of great shops, cafes and bars to keep you busy- as well as Cape Town not far up the coast.

Internship opportunities

For those of you with a particular scientific interest in sharks and conservation, it is recommended that you spend at least 4 weeks on this project. If you have studied or are studying in a relevant subject field (for example marine biology, biology, oceanography etc) and are passionate about marine conservation, you could help the researchers directly on an extra research mission. For more information contact Anne on to find out more.

Getting there

You will fly into Cape Town (CPT) on a Sunday. Your first night will be spent in a guest house in Cape Town, arranged by Oyster, before being collected the very next day and transported out to the project site. Expect to see your first sharks that very same day!

Highlights - what will I get out of this?

  • The thrill of having a shark swimming towards you - still exciting even after several weeks!
  • Seeing the sharks from above- watching the fins slowly approaching is a heart in mouth moment!

  • Being part of a friendly team, working and socialising around a fantastic stretch of coast.
  • Coming away with a lot more knowledge and some wonderful memories
  • Getting involved in the many volunteer opportunities, trips and the vibrant lifestyle on this rugged stretch of coast
  • Helping a species that is dying out and contribute to reversing this sad trend.

Accommodation and food

Accommodation is located in lodge grounds 10 - 15 minutes walk away from the shark boat launch station. The lodge is equipped with four spacious chalets, each of which houses between four and six volunteers at one time. Contained within the grounds is a main living area with pool table, indoor braai (the South African bbq) and spacious kitchen for cooking up your evening meal. There is also a swimming pool and large garden to relax in after a day out on the boats.

A good breakfast is provided at the volunteer house, and lunch is given on the days that you are out at sea. Wireless internet is available at the accommodation, as well as satellite television and dvd player.

Cost and what support is provided?

Costs on the Shark Conservation project start at 1145 for two weeks. All additional weeks cost just 295.

What is Provided?

  • Pre-departure information covering medical, safety and placement advice
  • Advice on visa requirements
  • Phone or face-to-face interview and detailed briefing
  • Help and advice from our UK office before departure and whilst away
  • Pre-arranged voluntary work with accommodation.
  • ATOL financial protection (if Oyster books your flight)
  • Being met at Cape Town airport and taken to your first night guest house accommodation in Cape Town
  • Collection from your guest house and transfer to the project site
  • Assistance and support from our representative whilst on your placement
  • Formal training session upon arrival, including health and safety, rules and regulations etc
  • Internet access at the accommodation, along with swimming and pool table access
  • Suitable gear for working with sharks, including cage diving
  • Breakfast provided, as well as lunch when out on the boats
  • Return transfer to Cape Town
  • Donation to penguin houses project included
  • Free access to InterHealth's Travel Health Advice Service
  • Free myTsafe secure document storage account - worth 39!

What do I need?

  • A passport valid for 6 months beyond the end of your placement
  • Insurance - we recommend you a policy
  • Return flights to Cape Town. We can help organise these.
  • Sun block
  • Spending money - for food (approx 3 per day), eating out, trips etc
  • Old clothing including shoes that can be worn at sea and on a boat
  • Rain Jacket
  • Polarised sunglasses are great for helping you see the sharks better
  • Warm clothing for the evening.
  • Funds for any independent travel

One more thing...

The dwarf shark is as small as your hand, while the whale shark can be as large as a school bus!

Combine two South Africa projects and save 50 Find out more...

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