Volunteer - Shark and Marine Life

Shark and Marine Life - South Africa

This marine life volunteering gives you a chance to join an eco-tourism based operation in South Africa, and give you first-hand experience of working with the Great White Shark and other marine wildlife.

Shark populations worldwide are increasingly threatened, and in scientific circles there is still research needed to fully understand and interpret shark behaviour. It is only by getting to know these complex creatures more intimately, that we will understand the impact of their current continuing decline.

This program will suite anyone who loves the ocean, marine wildlife, shark fanatics, whale enthusiasts (seasonally) and people who want to learn more about how Eco-Tourism benefits conservation.

Based in Kleinbaai, which is situated near the Southern most tip of Africa, Cape Agulhas, the area is known for its natural unspoiled beauty of small bays, white sands and its archaeological and historical value. Here there is a very high density of the Great White sharks, attributed to the availability of prey, including their favoured prey of Cape Fur seals. Volunteering on board of vessels offers the chance to gain exposure with various marine species, including but not limited to Great White Sharks, Southern Right Whales (seasonal), Dolphins and many marine bird species such as the endangered African Penguin.

You will play a pivotal role in observing, collating data and promoting these graceful and majestic creatures. You will research the feeding, migrating and behavioural habits as well as various other aspects of the Great Whites by recording sightings, tagging, dorsal fin identification and taking photos for an ongoing data base in conjunction with various national and international academic research institutions. Their superior immune system and wound healing capabilities, parasites found on sharks, as well as their interaction with other marine species, are part of the comprehensive and ongoing research.

You may also be involved in other projects such as - artificial penguin homes which sometimes need placement at the colonies; shark egg collection; bird surveys and animal rescues.

Getting maximum sea time is the main objective, where you will have the opportunity to shark cave dive, and where you will also be expected to assist other guests during their trip, with duties being assigned to you while on the boat. There may be some 'no sea days' as everything is dependent on the weather, and if the seas are too rough, strong winds, heavy rains or big swells then it would be too dangerous and so you will not go out on the water on these days.

The organisation is Fair Trade Tourism South Africa (FTTSA) accredited thereby meeting strict criteria such as: fair wages and equal employment, democracy, transparency and environmental conservation.

Volunteers participate in a wide variety of tasks and activities. Learning about coastal eco-systems in the region, and about what work is going on to help preserve them.

The positive impact of this volunteer project has captured the imagination of public and media worldwide, and has been extremely successful in raising positive awareness of sharks and the need for conservation thereof.

The "Project Contribution" included in your overall fee will contribute to the long-term sustainability of the project during your actual volunteer stay on the ground.

All of our Projects require you to be in good health and be reasonably fit.


Great white sharks - Shark and Marine Wildlife Project
Volunteer - Shark and Marine Life
Shark-Conservation-Project - South Africa


A 50% deposit is required to book this project. Please note the average weekly price reduces for every extra week booked. All prices are in Pounds Sterling (£GBP) and are per person (pp). Once requested your volunteer project cannot be refunded or exchanged.

Advertised price based on 2 week project on a Twin Share basis.  If you have longer than 7 weeks please contact us for a price.

No. of Weeks & Cost

2 weeks ------ £995

3 weeks ------ £1455

4 weeks ------ £1795

5 weeks ------ £2225

6 weeks ------ £2595

7 weeks ------ £2995

Chalets housing 6 volunteers in twin shared rooms - self catering


  • Project donation
  • Return transfer Shuttle from Cape Town (Mondays only)
  • Orientation programme and project specific training
  • Programme activities and educational excursions
  • Lectures and related conservation work
  • Breakfasts, and light lunches whilst on board shark boat
  • Boat trips
  • Transport to Great White House and boat
  • Internet access at accommodation
  • 2 T-shirts and 1 cap

NOT Included

  • Flights
  • Visa costs
  • Travel & Medical Insurance (must cover volunteer work)
  • In-country transport (personal)
  • Food: Dinner is not included, and lunch if not at sea (budget GBP£125 - GBP£250 for 4 weeks)
  • Costs and items of a personal nature
  • Excursions and activities
  • Laundry

Your Volunteering experience is not complete without taking in some key heritage and tourist sites during your off-periods. Your project co-ordinator will advise you of various activities that you will have time to partake in, and you can arrange these directly with your project.


Duration - Minimum 1 week (4 weeks recommended) - extendable by 2 weeks at a time
Programme starts on a Monday, and you would need to arrive on the Sunday before.

You can expect to be involved with any of the following, during your stay. This is not a comprehensive list, and you may not get to be involved with everything, as obviously it depends on your length of stay and what is going on at the project at the time.

The learning part of the programme will consist of the following

  • Learning about climatic conditions pertaining to seamanship
  • How shark cage diving operates
  • Shark behaviour and biology
  • Learn the importance of shark tagging and tracking
  • Lectures by qualified marine biologists
  • How to photograph marine wildlife for on going database
  • Ocean conservation needs at the tip of Africa
  • Learning about South Africa's conservation organisations
  • Data collection

Practical experience will include

  • Experience out at sea, weather permitting
  • Photographing sharks and observing them around the boat
  • Learning how to Identify individual animals through newly discovered dorsal fin recording, measurement and markings
  • Boat safety and seamanship. Learning how to maintain standards and equipment needed for the operation Assisting with the monitoring other marine animals in the area, and learning about hierarchy in the ecosystems
  • Participating in rescue and data collection
  • Field work in and around the area of Gansbaai, which is dependent on the ocean and tourism for its survival
  • Recording medical records and data as well as informing visitors about the Seabird Sanctuary

Accommodation and Hours

Volunteers stay in private self-catering chalets housing for 6 volunteers in each chalet (2 persons per room).  The main house contains a modern kitchen where you can prepare your dinner, there is also a very spacious living area in the main hall with a pool table as some entertainment and a cash bar, communal indoor braai and a swimming pool.

The project has a volunteer bus and is used daily for the volunteers needs, you can also walk into town or the project and will take between 10 and 15min (1.2km).

08:00- 17:00 is a normal day (hours may change) - 7 days a week - boat outings are weather dependent

Time-off when whether is not suitable to go out to sea

Transport and Transfers

As the projects start and end dates are Monday’s you would need to arrive no later than the previous Sunday, we can assist you with accommodation in Cape Town. Collection times for your shuttle to transfer you to your volunteer project are generally between 5am and 8am every Monday. On return trips you can be dropped off at the airport but your flight needs to leave no earlier than 7pm so please plan this well.


It is a compulsory requirement that you have adequate travel insurance before you join any Oasis Trip & at the very least are insured for all necessary medical & repatriation costs incurred overseas with a minimum sum insured of £500,000.  It is also wise to leave a copy of your insurance policy with a friend or relative for safe keeping.

Please ensure that your policy covers you for Volunteering work and activities.

We believe that your safety and holiday enjoyment are very important. It is a mistake to think that "it will never happen to me". It is also very important that you are covered for all the activities that you may wish to undertake while on our trip.

For further information on the insurance we offer, the activities covered, costs and how to book - please check out the Insurance section of our website.

Visas and Vaccinations

Most nationalities do not require a Visa for South Africa, but it is advisable to contact the relevant Embassy in plenty of time before the trip departs to check the current visa requirements.

As we are not medically trained - we are unable to give detailed or professional advice on vaccination requirements, therefore please consult a reputable travel clinic or GP for advice on any medical issues. We suggest allowing 8 weeks to get all your vaccinations. For more information visit: www.fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk or  www.nomadtravel.co.uk  Oasis travellers receive a 10% discount on vaccinations, medical kits, clothing and camping equipment from the Nomad Travel Clinic - you will receive your discount code on your booking receipt.  Medical advice should also be taken regarding Malaria risks.

Clothing and Equipment

Please see our full list of Clothing and Equipment, in the Essential Trip Information on each trip page, for the Overland trip that you are undertaking before or after this project. This should more than cover the items you will need for your Project. You will also receive a full Welcome Pack from our Project Provider, after booking, that will list any other items.

Responsible Travel

Before you go

  • Remove unnecessary packaging before you go - waste disposal facilities are often stretched in the places we visit.
  • To avoid unnecessary pollution of local water supplies take environmentally friendly toiletries with you.
  • Why not invest in a wind-up or solar-powered torch or media player before you travel or at least rechargeable batteries.
  • Learn some of the local language and read up on the local history / culture before you go. You'll get so much more out of your trip. Why not pack some pens / pencils exercise books in your rucksack and they can be donated to a local school or project while you're away.
  • Take a sturdy water bottle with you from home that you can re-use throughout your trip.

While You're Travelling

From experience gained in running trips, we have developed our own practical and a manageable environmental policy.  We welcome your input on this, plus any new ideas you may have, to improve our existing procedures. As a guide here's a few tips to bear in mind.Don't waste water. It is a scarce resource in many of the places our trips visit.

  • Never buy endangered species or endangered habitat products. Apart from the fact of it being illegal it also encourages the trade to continue.
  • Look after and preserve the areas we visit. Be careful about stepping on coral reefs or trekking on undesignated tracks.
  • Buy locally made crafts and products helping to support the local economy.
  • Don't feel when bargaining that you have to get the cheapest price possible just for the sake of it. Pay what the item is worth to you.
  • Try the local food and drinks - this will help to support local farmers and food sellers. Sitting in a local cafe is also a great way to meet local people.
  • Dispose of litter appropriately on your trip. This includes cigarette butts. Not only does litter look unsightly it can be lethal to wildlife.
  • Where any toilet facilities exist, however unsavoury they might seem to you, they should be used. Where they do not, always bury your waste and make sure it is never near, (at least 30m) from a water source.
  • When game viewing do not encourage your guides to get too close to the wildlife so that their natural behaviour is impeded.
  • Respect local customs, traditions and beliefs of the people in the different regions that you travel through.
  • Do not take photos of people, ritual events or special places unless you have asked first. Dress appropriately according to local codes and show respect around religious festivals.
  • Recycling is almost non-existent in many of the areas and countries we visit - we do the best we can with limited resources & space on our vehicles.

For books dedicated to travelling more responsibly & ethically see: www.tourismconcern.org.uk

Please note that you will be required to fill out an application form prior to being accepted on the Project. You may also be asked for references.

This Project can be combined with any other Africa Volunteering Project.


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