Dive with Great Whites - and help save them from extinction
Get to see the world's largest underwater creature daily, spending your time out at sea contributing to an essential education and research mission. Volunteering along a beautiful stretch of South Africa's rich coastline, whilst seeing some of the greatest sea creatures the world has to offer, you become part of a passionate team contributing to worldwide scientific research on sharks. Help to monitor and observe the sharks in their natural habitat, finding out more about their behaviour. This research is crucial if we are to stop the continuing decline of shark populations around the world.
Your days will be spent out at sea, predominantly helping out with the tourist shark and whale watching trips, educating visitors about this commonly misunderstood creature. You will get to enjoy life out at sea, helping to identify the sharks and taking important pictures and data. For the lucky ones, you can take part in ongoing research and monitoring, linked with various universities worldwide, going out on the small research boat to help with this valuable work.
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.
What Will I Be Doing?
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.
Your main focus of the morning will be the tourist trips, but on some days you will also be encouraged out onto the small research boat- weather conditions permitting!
- Tourist trips: The research team take groups of tourists on shark and whale watching trips. You will be working alongside them, operating equipment, as well as 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: Help researchers in their work to identify the movement of the sharks throughout the year. This involves observing them from a boat or diving cage, photographing them and keeping records. You will be given plenty of training and development, with daily lectures on sharks and their habits as well as hands-on experience. It won't be long before you are contributing your own observations at lectures and feeling very much part of the team. The boat is very small, and can only take out volunteers in fine weather- but there is plenty more for you to help out in with the research mission
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.
Volunteers are also encouraged to take part in other conservation efforts, from painting penguin houses to helping out with local education programmes. These are great fun to get involved with, and really contributo to the local community.
There is plenty to do during your time off. You are located just off the beautiful Garden Route, and many trips are arranged for you- trips to the local vineyards, to the southernmost point of South Africa and to surrounding towns. There is a vibrant lifestyle in this area of South Africa, with lots of great shops and cafes and bars to keep you busy.
A flight can be arranged to Cape Town. Your first night will be spent in a guest house in Cape Town, before being collected the very next day and transported out to the project site along the stunningly attractive Garden Route. Expect to see your first sharks that very same day!
Accommodation and food
Comfortable and secure accommodation is provided about 5 minutes walk from the office and boats in a really lovely neighbourhood. The house has great shower facilities, living area and fully equipped kitchen where you will be able to cook for yourselvesin the evening. A good breakfast is provided at the volunteer house, and lunch is given on the days that you are out at sea. There is satellite television, wifi, volunteer computer 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 accommodation
- Assistance and support from our representative whilst on your placement
- Formal training session upon arrival, including health and safety, rules and regulations etc
- Suitable gear for working with sharks, including cage diving
- Breakfast provided, as well as lunch when out on the boats
- Donation to penguin houses project included
- Free access to InterHealth's Travel Health Advice Service
- Free myTsafe secure document storage account - worth £25!
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...