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Shark Project

An ocean-based project which aims to unite scientific research and public participation in the protection of South Africa’s great white shark. Volunteers are primarily here to work closely with sharks and tourists and in doing so increase awareness of these wonderful creatures.

Shark Project
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Overview:

Location Closest town: Gansbaai, Kleinbaai, South Africa
Duration From 2 weeks
Dates This project does not operate on the 25th of December and the 1st of January, but volunteers can still stay at the volunteer centre.
Requirements
  • You must have an upper intermediate level of English
  • Special skills: You must be physically fit and able to swim
Minimum Age: 18
Your impact
Documents required Enrolment form, curriculum vitae, letter of motivation, passport copy, proof of medical insurance; medical conditions need to be accompanied by a doctor’s note
Day of arrival Monday
Day of departure Monday

Highlights

  • Work on eco-tourism vessels with leaders in the industry, assisting tourists and educating them about conservation.
  • Dive with great white sharks and see them in their natural habitat.
  • Experience the Marine Big 5 wildlife: sharks, whales, dolphins, penguins and seals.
  • Learn about shark behaviour, biology and ocean conservation.
  • Assist with rehabilitation efforts at the world class African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary.
  • Participate in conservation activities like beach clean ups and fishing line bin assembly and monitoring.
  • Learn to suba dive (additional costs apply).
  • Take part in amazing tours and excursions outside of the project.
  • Make new friends from all over the world.

Project Information

The project is focused on shark-cage diving, whale watching and boat-based eco-marine tourism. It is based in Kleinbaai, a small harbour town, part of Gansbaai in the Western Cape of South Africa. This area is known as the best place in the world to see Great White sharks in their natural habitat and it is also a hot spot for the breeding and mating waters of the Southern Right whale. The project works closely with a number of conservation bodies to address conservation challenges and improve living conditions for local communities and to raise awareness about wildlife conservation.

The project offers you an incredible opportunity to experience a wide range of South African marine wildlife: sharks, whales, dolphins, penguins and seals. You will learn about shark behaviour, biology and ocean conservation, fin-ID studies, great white shark wound healing, great white tagging and tracking, and water sampling. You will have informative presentations and you will take part in exciting community projects too, i.e. beach clean ups, education, etc.

The project allows you access to a diverse area of learning and gives you holistic insight into the challenges and opportunities involved in eco-tourism and ocean conservation at the tip of Africa.

Your Role

Duties on the boat:

  • Report for duty 1 ½ hours before boat is scheduled to launch.
  • Clean and dry the boat in the morning and afternoon (before trips and after).
  • Check equipment for diving - chum, bait, food, coats, etc.
  • Assist in laying and retrieving of the anchor and cage.
  • Assisting in dive operation (you will get the chance to dive yourself).
  • Education and care of clients and client interaction.
  • Constant and vigilant shark spotting and bait watching.
  • Clean wetsuits and put them away.
  • Storeroom duties - needs to be kept clean daily.
  • Assist crew and skipper.
  • One trip usually takes a total of 6 working hours, two trips about 8 working hours. 

You will receive details of your trips each evening for the next day. For any time off or sickness you need to contact the volunteer coordinator immediately. The project team tries to get you out to sea every possible day, so please stay in touch with your coordinator if this is too much for you. for no-sea days (when the weather is bad), day trips will be organised.

The project runs 7 days a week as they are completely dependent on the weather. If the weather does not allow the boat to go out to the sea, then you will be taken on one of the following excursions: Hermanus (shopping, wine tours), Betty’s Bay (penguin colony), Cape Agulhas (meeting of the two oceans), Caledon hot water spa, Two Oceans Aquarium, Hiking, etc.

It is important to note that this description serves as an example only. The daily tasks and challenges depend on the weather and the season. Everything at the programme is dependent on the weather. If there are no sea days, presentations, excursions or conservation work will be arranged. The final job description can therefore vary from the above substantially.

Accommodation

You will be accommodated at the International Marine Volunteer Centre, which is located in Kleinbaai directly at the project. This lodge is equipped with 4 cottages that accommodate between 4 and 6 people per cottage (twin shared rooms). Each cottage has a bathroom (with toilet, shower and basin), kitchen and living area as well as daily living essentials. There is a manager on site for after hour emergencies. There is also a very spacious living area in the main hall with a pool table, a cash bar, communal indoor braai and kitchen area that can be used. The lodge has a big, safe swimming pool, a garden, a dartboard, a football table, a table tennis table and an activity hall. Minibuses are available to transport you to and from the hub of activities. However, if you are more activate, walking or cycling to the office is safe and easy and will only take between 10 and 15min (1.4km). 

Your laundry gets taken to the Laundromat weekly, which costs about ZAR 15 per kg.

Videos

Testimonials

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"I am so happy about my experience in South Africa, I love this country. My volunteer experience was really awesome! I met a lot of friendly people. The shark project is so nice, I worked with different people around the world, and Kleinbaai is amazing! The boat, the lodge, all the different activities, the crew, and everybody who is part of this project, is really unbelievable. The project was important for me, my partners spoke perfect English, so I learned English too much! Thank you for everything! I really want to come back again, I hope so!"

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"Its an amazing experience and gives you a good introduction in marine biology. After this programme you will love sharks and you will have met a great crew and staff. Marine Dynamic offers you with that programme not just a working experience abroad, you are getting part of a big family in Kleinbaai. I had the chance to learn so much about sharks and about marine conservation. This programme is just awesome! Thank you for everything, you guys made this four weeks so special....Thanks and i will come back!"