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 All year round (this project does not operate on the 25th of December and the 1st of January, but volunteers can still stay)
Requirements
  • You must have an upper intermediate level of English
  • Special skills: You must be physically fit and able to swim
Minimum Age: 18
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 Sunday (please arrange your own accommodation in Cape Town) Project start is Monday
Day of departure Monday (after 9pm) otherwise Tuesday

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.
  • 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.

Furthermore does the project offer you an incredible opportunity to experience a wide range of South African marine wildlife: sharks, whales, dolphins, penguins and seals. You will receive presentations by marine biologists on shark biology, ecology, and conservation. 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 and after trips).
  • 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.

Other activities could include:

  • Beach clean-ups.
  • Fishing line bin construction, erection and maintenance.
  • Shark egg collection and identification.
  • Local Estuary monitoring.
  • Assisting with rehabilitation of penguins and seabirds at the African Penguin & Seabird Sanctuary.
  • Getting involved in the project’s conservation efforts.

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 accommodated at a lodge, directly at the project in Kleinbaai. It 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, communal indoor braai and kitchen area that can be used. The lodge has a big, safe swimming pool, a garden, a dartboard, a foosball table, a table tennis table and an activity hall.
Minibuses are available to transport you to and from the hub of activities. 
Bedding is provided. Bed linen are washed weekly. WiFi is available.

Your laundry gets taken to the laundromat weekly and costs about ZAR 22 per kg.

Testimonials

Good Hope Volunteers Felipe & Stephanie from Brazil

“It was an incredible project, and we got to know a lot of people from the restaurant team, the boats, the team coordinators, everyone! It was a unique experience that we highly recommend, we were extremely well received, the whole team is to be congratulated! We loved being part of the project and thank you for being part of our story!"

Good Hope Volunteers Sonja from Germany

“Absolutely amazing! I’ve planned on doing this for so long and I’m glad I finally did it. It was by far the best time I have ever had. I miss them so much and I think about this place every single day. I’m still in touch with the staff and they are still telling me how much they miss me and they want me to come back. It became a home away from home. I will always remember what one of them told me: „It is not a good bye, it is a see you later!“

Good Hope Volunteers Almar from United Arab Emirates

"As a fellow South African but growing up abroad even my own expectations of my country were surpassed as I gained new experiences and beautiful sights I had never seen before. My time with Shark Project felt like one week even though it was two, it passed to quickly and I wish I could have extended my stay. I loved going out on 1-2 boats a day and basking in the sun whilst breathing in the fresh sea air. Every day is new and interesting as your schedule varies as well as meeting clients from all around the world and from different walks of life. Your fellow volunteers are also from all around the world and some are there for the experience whilst others are there for research. The volunteers I worked with were a friendly and colourful group that made me feel at home. The coordinators are also very kind and go above and beyond to try to accommodate you to the best of their ability. Overall it was an excellent and unforgettable experience and I hope to return in the future."