||All year round - you
choose your start and finish dates.
3 weeks to 6 months or longer, subject to visa requirements
||No qualifications needed. Minimum age 17.
Full Price List
►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.
And best of all ... an unforgettable experience!
The Shark Conservation
organisation you'll work with is dedicated to the exploration and conservation
of Sharks and the preservation of
environment. Your work with them will help to gather accurate data on the white sharks to assist in
management programmes for the ensured survival of the species.
Your work will also help in their efforts to change negative
public attitude towards sharks through awareness and education.
arrive, you'll be given a lot of training before starting your actual
work. This training will consist of most of the elements of a two-week
course which the project offers the general public. However,
whereas the general public go home after completing their course, you
will be working with project staff to assist in their research and fight
against the encroaching possible extinction of the Great White.
You'll receive training in White
Shark biology, research, behaviour, conservation, changing attitudes,
shark attacks, basic seamanship, underwater filming, still photography
and shark tourism.
Part of the training will be in the form of slides and videos. They will
take place in the evenings after you return from sea, or on off-sea
Weather permitting you will go to sea frequently. At sea, you'll get
involved as much as possible with all aspects of sea work. This will be
focused on working with the sharks from above and below the water. Much
emphasis will be 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. Participants in the
cages will record observations of the White Sharks. This will include
sex, size, markings and behaviour.
You'll also be taught the basics of how to set the camera up, how to use
it under water and how to obtain the best images.
This training is designed to educate you to
a level of competence of a field assistant. During the training, you
will be evaluated on how you handle teamwork, take your own initiatives,
take interest in the work and activities, show interest in learning.
Thereafter, you'll participate in assisting with various duties and responsibilities, including helping to
educate locals and children on the Great White.
The first boat trip usually goes out at 8:30am. The tourists arrive from
Cape Town around 7:30am for a breakfast at the Lodge. Volunteers get up
around 6:00am to help with preparing the equipment (wet suits, masks,
etc.) for the day. You'll have breakfast and be ready to welcome the
guests at 7:30am. You'll walk the guests a short 5 minute walk to the
launch site. Once on the boat, you'll help the crew in any way you can.
This includes getting the boat anchored, helping the guests get kitted
out for their cage dive, help with the chumming, and anything else that
crops up. Once the boat trip is over, you'll wash the boat down and pack
all the kit up to take back to the lodge. 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, you have the rest
of the day off. This daily routine takes place 7 days a week. If it’s a
quiet day, you may have the opportunity to go on the Whale Watching boat
(if there is space) for no charge.
Skills learned from the Project:
You'll learn many new skills
(depending on your previous experience) - everything to do with running
a boat and keeping it in a good working order. You'll also learn ways to
identify the sharks and study their behaviour. A lot of researchers use
the boat trips to collect data, so speaking to them will teach you a lot
Volunteers help the project staff
to fill in data sheets for the sharks they spot day to day. There is no
scientific research carried out by the project itself. It is a tourist
operation, but their sightings are sent back to Cape Town to the
researchers and this information is used by them.
should be hard working, have a genuine interest in the sharks
and be up for mucking in at all times. We don't recommend it for anyone
with a ‘shark curiosity’ as we feel you may get bored very quickly. The
day-to-day routine doesn't change, the real thrill is seeing the
sharks. If you aren't passionate about the creatures, the novelty could
wear thin quite quickly. There isn’t much to do outside of work hours,
so you must be able to amuse yourself - the crew does go for drinks
sometimes and our volunteers are invited along, but they all have
families to go home to and it’s an early start, so no big parties.
Positive aspects of this project are the
sharks (obviously!) and an active outdoor lifestyle in a stunning
environment. Generally, our volunteers can go on the boat everyday - if
there is room, and subject to weather conditions. You'll usually be able to dive in the cage as many times
as you like as well, again depending on tourist numbers and weather
conditions. There is generally
space on the boats most days, a full boat is not a daily occurrence.
ABOUT THE ORGANISATION:
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
with a world leading marine organisation focusing on the Great White Shark.
Founded in 1989 purely as a research center, it now collects information
which is passed on to and used by other research organisations.
Since 1989 it has grown and broadened its services to include an
excellent film department, diving and viewing center and a separate
conservation and educational department. "Everything we do we
aim to do in harmony with nature and the environment we are working in."
The dedicated Shark Team has been conducting population dynamics and behavioural research
since 1991 and was
responsible for having the Great White declared as a protected and
endangered species in South Africa.
Contrary to popular opinion,
shark attacks are rare, with only 20 to 30 fatal attacks each year
worldwide. The media hype of these attacks plus movies have engendered a
fear which has been exploited and then
marketed at the expense of the well being of the shark species. Sharks'
natural feeding areas are seal colonies.
undertakes much cage diving with sharks. This was originally thought of
as a bad idea, as it was believed that by baiting humans in cages,
sharks would associate humans as food, through the process of
conditioning. However, our partner organisation disputes this as sharks
are highly nomadic animals, their territory ranging over vast areas,
even across continents. Research shows that a shark would never stay in
one place long enough to become conditioned
The Shark Cage
You'll live in a house in Kleinbaai. It is
very comfortable, quiet and has some lovely views.
The house has a dorm room and two double rooms,
one bathroom, a nice kitchen, a lounge area and an outside patio for those
hot evenings. With a comfortable seating area, television and video for
entertainment, you will be very relaxed in your new home and shark briefings
will take place here from time to time too.
You will be taken into Gansbaai for shopping
and anything else you may need.
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.)
Got any questions? Please email us:
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.
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.
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.
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
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’
- Penguin –
- Seal –
- Dolphin –
Bottlenose, Common and Humpback
ACTIVITIES IN CAPE TOWN
Enjoy exciting and “real” adventures with an adrenaline twist!
- Deep-sea Angling
- ‘Kloofing’ (insanely jumping off very high cliffs into
pools of water!)
- Helicopter flips
- 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
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.
To read about Travel arrangements and what happens when you
arrive in your new country, please
Support & Backup:
To read about the excellent
& Backup we provide before you leave and during
please click here.