Shark Conservation Project

Project Details

Project starts: Saturday
Location: Gansbaai
Minimum duration: 2 weeks

This exciting project is situated in Gansbaai – the shark cage diving capital of the world – and is about a 2 hour drive from Cape Town. The coast around Gansbaai is home to multiple marine species. There are shark sightings all year, peaking in the Southern Hemisphere in winter (May – September). Southern Right Whales including their calves return every year in July and stay around until December, when they return back to Antarctic waters. Other species including seals and penguins are resident all year and we sometimes have sightings of bottlenose, humpback and common dolphins sightings.

Our volunteer programs here offer a limited number of places each year which allows participants to gain the maximum from their time working closely with biologists from our research team on our shark cage diving vessel.

Gansbaai is situated 2 hours from Cape Town. 

This former fishing village turned bustling town and tourism Mecca is the business hub that anchors a diverse and colourful community. The main road and side streets are dotted with an array of old and new shops and pubs, diners and deli’s reflecting an exquisite blend of cultures and traditions. The fishing industry is still the economical heartthrob of the town. The two harbours, fishmeal factory and canning division, as well as the two abalone farms, are abuzz with activity and the main employment generator.

A thriving industrial area, banks, three petrol stations and two trendy shopping centres ensure that the needs of both locals and visitors are met. We 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 thousands of photos for an ongoing data base in conjunction with various national and international academic and research institutions. Taking a closer look at their superior immune system and wound healing capabilities, their interaction with other marine species, as well as the parasites that are found on sharks is all part of the comprehensive and ongoing research we do.

What’s Included

  • Airport pick up
  • 2 nights in Cape Town
  • Accommodation on project
  • Cape Town Orientation tour
  • Transfer Gansbaai back to Cape Town, providing you travel back on a Monday
  • Breakfast and lunch on working days
  • 24 hour support and supervision on project from two full-time volunteer coordinators and administrator and an on-site Manager
  • Donation to the NPO to assist with projects, for all bookings of 4 weeks or more
  • Certificate of appreciation

There are 4 cottages that accommodate up to 6 people per cottage. Each cottage has a bathroom, kitchenette and living area as well as daily living essentials. The main building has a beautiful kitchen, equipped with induction plates, a microwave and oven for cooking and a fully functional recycling system in place.  There is also a very spacious living area with satellite TV, DVD player, board games, pool table and foosball.  There is an activity hall with some weights and a table tennis table. The facility has a large, safe swimming pool and garden. Walking or cycling to the Great White House is easy, quick and safe and will only take between 10 and 15min (1.4km). We also have 2 dedicated minibuses that are equipped with all the necessary safety permits and licences and are used daily for the volunteers’ transport needs.

Key things about the centre:

  • Expect to share
  • Fully furnished
  • Satellite TV – a whole lot of channels
  • DVD player
  • Free WiFi (remember to bring your laptop or smartphone)
  • Emergency numbers are in the house
  • Bedding is provided and washed on a weekly basis
  • Bicycles for personal use
  • Keep your personal belongings safe (each cottage has a safe)
  • The water is safe to drink


  • Breakfast: eggs, bacon (or veggie sausage), bread, cereal, coffee and tea
  • Lunch: Only on working days, a sandwich, crisps, fruit juice and fruit.
  • Evening meals and other entertainment are at your own expense. Our accommodation has a fully equipped kitchen and braai/barbeque area.
  • Shops are nearby and a self catering kitchen is available. We will transfer you for food shopping on your first day of arrival and some days during the week.

Extras NOT included:

  • Lunch on off days and all dinners
  • Laundry R15 per KG or there is hand washing area


During the evenings you will be able to do any of the following:

  • Relax at home, making food together, and watching television. We have satellite television and this has most of the channels you get back home
  • Rent DVD’S
  • Going to the Great White House for dinner
  • Going out to the local restaurants and pubs – there is a taxi available
  • You are welcome to prepare a traditional meal of your home country

Please inform your Coordinator if you have any problems or questions, immediately.

Average working day

Programs run for 5-7 days a week, normally from Monday to Sunday as the project is partnered with an ecotourism business.

Off days are granted upon request with a days notice or if there is bad weather.

How will you be involved?

Duties will vary depending on each person´s skills set and those involved in the active study of marine biology will be more involved on the research aspects. Volunteers assist with observational data capture and photographic data and may be involved with water sampling, temperature testing etc. If on the research boat, you would learn how to use the VR100 for tracking sharks. On land you may learn how to capture data and how to match fins for population counts.

Trips to sea

You will be able to go out to sea every other day. For example, a 30 day stay enables you to go to sea at least 15 times. Please note that this will be the minimum (depending on no-sea days and weather), but could be more, and we do our best to accommodate you as often as possible.

Duties on the boat

Whilst on the boat you will be able to do the following:

  • Assist inlaying and retrieving the anchor
  • Assist putting in the cage and attaching it to the boat
  • Help prepare bait
  • Help with the chumming
  • Assist the customers on the boat – answering any questions they have, informing them about the white sharks, helping them with their wet suits, offering help to any people suffering from seasickness
  • Assist divers in getting ready for the cage, and helping them in and out of the cage – providing them with masks, weight belts and towels
  • Collecting data on the sharks
  • Helping prepare the cage if we have a second trip
  • Viewing the sharks and taking pictures

No sea days

If the weather does not allow the boat to go out to sea we will start the day with breakfast and then you will be taken on one of the following excursions:

Hermanus, Stanford – shopping, wine tours
Betty’s Bay – penguin colony
Cape Agulhas – meeting of the two oceans

Please keep in mind we are not mind readers and if there is something else you would like to do on these days, you are welcome to talk to your coordinator to arrange something else. Please note that South Africa does not have a geat public transport system and getting around can be a bit tricky sometimes so we would need to go with the majority.

Winter in South Africa

Please note that May through to September are our winter months and it can get quite chilly with an average temperature ranging from 5 degrees Celsius at night to 15 degrees Celsius during the day. So, please make sure to pack enough warm clothes if you plan your trip in that period.

Cape Town Activities

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Animal Interaction Level
Education level

Project Highlights

  • You will work with professionals and clients in a world-class ecotourism environment, learning all about how responsible ecotourism and conservation learning all about how responsible ecotourism and conservation work hand-in-hand
  • You will learn about the behaviors and biology of Great White Sharks, whales, penguins and the other species in our seas
  • We will help, support and encourage you to get the most out of your stay
  • Every volunteer gets involved in our eco-tourism (cage diving), whale-watching and other conservation work throughout their stay
  • Volunteers can choose from day-to-day between working on our shark-cage diving vessel, eco-tour/whale watching vessel or at our bird rehabilitation centre
  • Our newly commissioned research boat is called Lwazi (“seeking knowledge”). Research trips are fully weather dependent and performance of volunteers are rated on our shark cage diving vessel, for the chance to go on our research boat
  • 2-3 presentations on conservation, research or marine safety every week
  • The opportunity to help out at our African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary which is a world-class centre for the rehabilitation of seabirds in distress, with a particular emphasis on conserving the African penguin

Volunteer Requirements

  • CV/Resumé
  • Basic level of competency in English
  • Copy of return flight itinerary
  • Acceptance subject to availability of position



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Phone: 0.215.569.69
Cape Town, South Africa
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