CONSERVATION: MULTI-MARINE PROJECT WITH SHARKS, WHALES
AND DOLPHINS, NEAR CAPE TOWN IN SOUTH AFRICA
Sharks, Whales, Penguins, Seals, Dolphins...
this is an extraordinary project in a beautiful location, white
beaches and blue ocean. And two hours from Cape Town.
with sharks, whales, penguins, tourism, research and community
development. You’ll be taught, guided and lectured by very skilled
Go on whale
watching trips that are not just magical but rewarding too. See
penguins dancing on the sand. Laugh at the antics of hundreds
of seals in their colonies on Dyer Island. And of course there's the
Great White Shark, the greatest predatory force of the seas that
remains a mystery to man.
►Full pre-departure support and assistance,
►Payment Protection insurance
►Meeting you at the nearest airport
night in a hotel in Cape Town (usually)
►Transfer to your on-site accommodation
►Transport to and from your project
►Local in-country team support and backup
►24-hr emergency support.
►Certificate of Completion
What's not included
Insurance, Cost of Visas (if a visa is required), Return
transfer to airport.
Who can do
is open to all nationalities and all ages over 17.
Suitable for gap years or those taking a year out,
grown-up gappers, career breakers, anyone interested in
marine conservation, caring for marine animals and ocean
habitats, and working with marine wildlife overseas.
This is a good placement if you want to learn about
marine conservation strategies and habitats plus shark,
whale and other marine species' behaviour while doing
voluntary work, projects abroad or study abroad.
Also available as a summer placement in South Africa or
a short break activity.
"Look into the mouth of this ocean predator ... it's as big as a
Great White Shark cage diving is incredible!"
WHAT YOU'LL GAIN FROM DOING THIS PROJECT:
An exciting, never-to-be-forgotten adventure into Africa and the many
diverse cultures in South Africa
The enormous satisfaction of
knowing that our work is contributing to marine conservation.
New skills, more confidence, a greater understanding
of a different culture, invaluable personal and professional
An entry on your CV or résumé that will put you head
and shoulders above most others in the job market.
you'll go out to sea frequently. At sea, you'll get involved as
much as possible with all aspects of sea work. Much emphasis
will be placed on observing behaviour and the interactions of
marine species around the boat. You'll record your observations
onto datasheets, including data such as sex, size, markings and
is a great variety of work that you'll be doing and this will
largely depend on what work is required at the time you are
there. Seasons play a great part in the work as well because the
different species come and go according to their
seasonally-driven behavioural patterns.
For example, during the summer time (November through to
February), MD (the organisation we work with) are very involved
in Tourist trips and dives. These trips and tourist-related
activities are crucially important because they provide the
funds that are used for MD's research and community development
projects. During these months, there is a possibility that
you'll be called on to provide more help with the tourists and
less help with the marine research.
Much emphasis is placed on
observing behaviour and the interactions of sharks around the
boat. You will be taught how to get in and out of the cage
and how to remain secure and safe in the cage. You may
have to record observations of the White Sharks. This will
include sex, size, markings and behaviour. You might be asked to
help fill in data sheets for the sharks they spot day to day.
Individual recognition of sharks is achieved through
photographing dorsal fins, marks, scars and colouration. A shark
log is kept for each shark. The objectives of the research are
to collate a database of dorsal fin data which are used to
identify individual animals, to ascertain why the sharks use
this area and how long they stay, to study the behaviour of
sharks in their natural environment and in the vicinity of
shark-cage diving boats, as well as to obtain a population
Whale Research On the whale boat you will help to GPS all the whales, birds and
dolphins. You may also get involved in helping to rescue animals
in need, such as oiled, sick and injured penguins and birds.
"Anyone who has had the joy of
meeting a mighty whale face to face will tell you just how
magical it is. Huge, gentle, mysterious, curious. Can you
imagine a giant friend, like none other? As captivated by you as
you are by him."
Skills learned from the Project
Depending on your previous experience, you are likely to
learn many new skills, from running a boat and keeping it in a
good working order, to identifying the sharks and other marine
life and learning their behaviour. Sometimes researchers use the
boat trips to collect data, so speaking to them will teach you a
lot as well.
A TYPICAL DAY
Wake up at and get ready any time between 6:30 – 8:00. After
breakfast, assuming that the boat trip will take place that day
(because the trips are subject to weather conditions, the day
will start with making your way to the ‘Great White House’
where, once the tourists have had their briefing, you will help
to dress them in their jackets and life vests or go and prepare
the boat for the trip.
walk the tourists down to the boat. Once the boat leaves the
harbour you’ll spend between 3 and 6 hours out at sea. The
Shark Boat will go out once or twice a day depending on
numbers and time of year and the Whale Boat normally goes
out four times a day (for a duration of roughly 2 hours for each
your time on the shark boat, Shark Fever, you'll
participate in data collection. Once a shark is spotted, you
will need to record as much information as you can about it,
including data such as size, sex, any scars or other identifying
marks, the length of time it remains around the boat, behaviour,
and if it is a re-sight, etc. You'll be informed about
what information you need to collect.
is decided that it is a ‘good’ shark, the cage will be lowered
into the sea and you'll help with preparing the tourists for the
cage dives. This will include getting them into their wetsuits.
not participate in a cage dive on each occasion, but you should
have the opportunity on couple of occasions. Not every boat trip
ends in a cage dive – it will depend on whether there are any
sharks around at that time, whether the sea conditions are
conducive to lowering a cage, and other similar factors. Just to
give you an example, though, a very recent volunteer on a
one-month placement went out to sea on 20 occasions, but the
cage was only lowered on 9 of those occasions.
end of the 5 hours, you will return to the shore and here your
work will continue. Once back in shore you might have to wash
the boat down and pack all the kit up. The equipment needs
to be washed and hung to dry for the next day. If it is
busy there might be a second boat trip so all the above is
repeated. If not, they have the rest of the day off.
work you do will ideally be split between the two boats,
Shark Fever and Whale Whisperer, and work on land or
in the office. It will largely depend on what is happening at
the time of your placement and where the most help is needed.
This is only a rough idea of the work that you will be doing.
be given information and the necessary material to help you
answer any general questions that the tourists on the boats
might ask you and you will be expected to know and provide basic
Activities During your placement
you might have the opportunity to attend some lectures on
various aspects of shark and marine conservation. The number of
lectures will vary at different times of the year.
Wherever possible, a weekly
lecture and activity will try to be organised for you. However,
due to the workload at the time of the year and other external
factors, this may not always take place.
The Research Center
accommodation will be in a comfortable house in Kleinbaai.
You'll stay in a shared dorm room and you have the use of a
bathroom, a kitchen, lounge area, and courtyard braai area.
house is situated within a short 10 mins walking distance from
the ‘The Great White House’, which is the project office and
meeting point for tourists. There is a shop and cafe as well.
Internet is available for you to use at the MD office at the
Great White House. There are also two internet cafes in the
Food is not provided on this project. However, the local
supermarket stocks a variety of food and there are kitchen
facilities in the house for cooking.
need to take additional funds with you to cover the cost of
meals. At the time of writing this, a very loose guide of
how much you’re likely to need is R1,000 per month (roughly £88,
eating sensibly and cheaply) to R1,500 (roughly £132, on which
you should be eating fairly well). (These exchange figures
correct at time of writing.)
There is an outside courtyard
where you can have a typical South African barbeque known there
as a ‘braai’. Make sure you try the local spicy sausage
known as ‘boerewors’. Also, the Karoo lamb chops are to die for
on a ‘braai’, but if fish is more to your taste then a fish
‘braai’ with South African ‘snoek’ is a must.
ABOUT DYER ISLAND Much of the fieldwork will take place around Dyer
Island, which is also known as "Shark Alley"!
Dyer Island (larger island) is the breeding ground of Jackass Penguins, Cape
Cormorants and Gannets, while Geyser Rock (smaller island) is a breeding
Mecca for Cape Fur Seals and currently home to approx. 50 000 seals. In season,
whales and dolphins may also be spotted.
The name of the island
originated from an African American, Samson Dyer, who went to live on the island
in the 19th century. He collected "guano" (bird droppings), and made a living
from supplying it to farmers on the mainland as fertilizer. The boats that
transported the guano from the island
are today in the Maritime Museum at the Waterfront in
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN
YOU BOOK YOUR PLACEMENT:
Once you have applied for a placement, we'll
contact you and send you our Welcome Pack. You'll also receive Log-on
details and password for our Volunteer Extranet where you'll have
access to all the documentation and information which we've put
together to facilitate preparations for your adventure! Your
Project Co-ordinator for your country will liaise with you
throughout the arrangements process, as well as while you're on
your placement and on your return home.
The documents you'll have access to also include a Country
Factfile, Safety Guide and any manuals that may assist you on
your particular program (e.g. Teaching Guide, Sports Manuals, Enrichment
Suggestions for Animal Care, etc.). We do all we
can to make your stay one that you'll never forget. This is a truly awesome, elegant and beautiful country.
As with all our destinations, the culture and heritage is
different to what you're used to ... which, although one of the
most exciting aspects of travelling, should be borne in
Self-reliance and independence are highly appreciated in
all our destinations and will help you to make the most of this
On Arrival, your Introduction to the Country: When you arrive you will be welcomed by a member of our South African staff who
will take you to your accommodation and introduce you to everyone. During your first few days you'll be given an induction so that you can learn
about the country and its culture, as well as other useful information, like how
to use the transport system, banks, safety issues, tipping, and lots more.
You will have weekends free and this will also allow some time for travelling
and sight seeing.
Read an article by
Volunteer Ilona Veenema for a local newspaper about her Marine Project
Multi-Marine Project Video (courtesy of Fasttrax
Up close and personal with a whale
ABOUT THE GREAT WHITE SHARK
Sharks are intelligent and vulnerable,
deserving of sympathy and respect. Education helps people to lose the Jaws
phenomenon and gain the realisation that sharks are a complex and precious
species, living in the water – just doing their best to survive.
100,000,000 sharks are killed each year by humans, usually through fishing. They
are, as a result, on a collision course with extinction. Great White Sharks are
the last wild predator on earth that we cannot tame; from that point of view
alone it deserves our respect and attention.
How could our oceans be the same without the glorious Great White beneath its
Great White Sharks are very stable animals,
displaying stable and predictable behaviour. They do not like to fight with or
bite one another. They are highly intelligent animals, able to learn quickly and
to remember. This is all new and contradictory evidence in the field and it is
apparent that the Shark Team are just scratching the surface now.
Finding the Great White, or letting them
find you, is a skill, involving years of practice, the water temperature, depth,
visibility, swell height, current and wind direction are all major factors. Once
the site is found, the bait is prepared and the team awaits the shark,
respecting it as a free animal. A recent tagging project was very successful
allowing a number of Great Whites to be tracked.
Possible Extinction: Considering the incredible number of between 150 - 200 million sharks
destroyed each year, there is a potential threat of extinction to these species.
Most sharks are slow growing, have late maturation and low fecundity and this is
the shark's downfall. They cannot replace their stocks to keep up with human
exploitation, such as say, sardines can.
Lets look at the Great
White Shark. The Great White Shark female takes approximately 15 years to become
sexually mature, and the male about 8 years. At these ages the female will be
around five meters long and the male around four meters long. The Great White
Sharks' fecundity is low, so the female may possibly only give birth to several
litters of pups in a lifetime and these litters are relatively small, ranging
from about seven to eleven pups in a litter.
So due to the shark's
inability to reproduce quickly, stock replacement is not occurring and
subsequently the populations of the world are fast diminishing. In fact, they
are being wiped out far quicker than most people realise, with many species
critically endangered and some species literally on the brink of extinction.
The Great White Shark is
now protected in South Africa, California, South Australia and Tasmania, and
although this is only one of almost 400 species of shark, its protection is a
step in the right direction.
The Great White is a key
stone species on this planet and its protection, subsequent media attention and
high public profile allows us to use it as a battering ram to push for the
protection of other shark species.
While on your placements, you can also book some Optional
Add-Ons to do before or after your Placement
at the Rehabilitation Center, to make the most of your
Travel Experience. The most popular choices are the safari trips
from Cape Town and many volunteers use these as their means of
travel to arrive at their project in Knysna.
project can also be combined with any of our other projects in South Africa, or
you could even do a second project in a different region of the country, thus
doubling your adventure and enjoyment!
An endless number of Game Reserves, Safaris, Treks, and more.
LOCATION, EXPLORING AND SIGHTSEEING:
The best advice you'll get from us
is to try to see some of the country while you're in South
Africa. It's big (huge!) and each different region is exciting
and very, very beautiful. Cape Town is probably
the most beautiful city in the world (I can say that, I grew up
there :-) KwaZulu-Natal comes a very
close second, albeit very different. Knysna is
where South Africans go on vacation, which gives you some idea of
how lovely the region is.
The program runs out of Gaansbaai, South Africa. Fieldwork will
take place around Dyer Island and possibly other shark locations.
Dyer Island (known as Shark Alley!) is possibly the best place in the
world to see Great Whites. Gaansbaai is a seaside village, which depends
on fishing and tourism for its survival. It is situated approximately
two hours south east of Cape Town.
On one of the main research sites,
Dyer Island, many other wildlife species can be viewed from the boat. It is
the breeding ground for Jackass Penguins, Cape Cormorants and Gannets,
whilst Geyser Rock opposite, is a breeding mecca for Cape Fur Seals and
currently home to approximately 20 000 seals. In season Whales and an
occasional Dolphin can be spotted. This is a perfect habitat for the Great
sharks have been awesome. The largest one I've seen so far was a 3.5m shark
nicknamed "Slashfin" because her dorsal fin is cut. She looks a lot bigger up
close, I can tell you! Got to see a "predation" as well - a shark take out a
seal. Was all over in a matter of minutes, just a pool of blood on the surface
to tell the tale. Also saw a Southern Right whale out on the water which was
One of the exciting aspects of this project
is that you may be fortunate
enough to spot all the ‘Marine Big 5’ :
Shark – The Great White
Whale – Southern Right, Humpback and Brydes’
Dolphin – Bottlenose, Common and Humpback
ACTIVITIES IN CAPE TOWN
Enjoy exciting and “real” adventures with an adrenaline twist!
‘Kloofing’ (insanely jumping off very high cliffs into
pools of water!)
Bungee jumping (just up the coast)
…..and a LOT, LOT more!!!!
Tours - A visit to one of the many townships surrounding the
city is an experience that will open your eyes to the way in
which the biggest portion of Cape Town's population are living.
Take a township tour of Langa, the oldest township in South
Africa or Khayelitsha, the second largest township in South
Africa. Township tours will usually be co-led by a resident in
the area, showcase local industry and community projects and
include a visit to a township bar or 'shebeen'.
Two Oceans Aquarium - Located in the V&A
Waterfront, the Two Oceans Aquarium has lots
of display tanks, interactive experiences, a touch pool
and the highly popular predators tank.
Winelands - Wine lover or not, a visit to the Cape Winelands
is an absolute must as the region is one of breathtaking
beauty and majestic mountain backdrops.
Rolling vineyards and quaint Cape Dutch homesteads
... as well as some of the country's
Drives are a very popular leisure activity in South Africa,
because the roads are generally wide, in good condition,
relatively empty and a pleasure to drive on. People often go for
drives on a Sunday afternoon to a favourite hotel or restaurant
for afternoon tea and scones, or to the top of a pass just to
look at the view, or to a national park to watch the baboons -
there's always a good reason to go for a drive!
Cape Town has lots
and restaurantswith outdoors
seating areas overlooking the street or on the pavements, with
colourful sun umbrellas- a perfect
place to sit with the sun on your face, watching passers-by
ambling along, sipping a steamy cappucino or staving off the
heat with a cold drink.
TRAVEL: To read about Travel arrangements and what happens when you
arrive in your new country, please
Support & Backup:
To read about the excellentSupport
& Backup we provide before you leave and during
please click here.
IF YOU LIKED
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from conservation and research of Whales and Dolphins,
to all other aspects of the day-to-day running, including marketing,
liaising with clients, crewing and guiding on the boats, doing
observations/spotting, assisting with community projects and
educating the local children about the sea and lagoon.
MULTI-MARINE PROJECT: WHALES, SHARKS
& DOLPHINS IN SOUTH AFRICA: Sharks, Whales, Penguins, Seals, Dolphins... this is an
extraordinary and exciting project in a beautiful location,
surrounded by white beaches and blue ocean. And two hours from the
world's third favourite city - Cape Town. What more could anyone