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GAP YEAR | VOLUNTEER ABROAD | WORK EXPERIENCE OVERSEAS

 
About the Great White Shark

SOUTH AFRICA

CONSERVATION: THE GREAT WHITE SHARK PROJECT, NEAR CAPE TOWN IN SOUTH AFRICA

Come face to face with the Great White Shark! Learn about one of the most mysterious gifts of Mother Nature. 

You'll work in an organisation dedicated to the exploration and conservation of Sharks and the preservation of their environment. Your work 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 efforts to change negative public attitude towards sharks through awareness and education.

This  project is a rare opportunity to view the Great White Shark in its natural environment, either from a boat or an underwater cage. You'll also see other wildlife species, including Cape Gannets, Bryde Whales, Cape Fur Seals, Dolphins and Jackass Penguins.

List of ALL PROJECTS in South Africa CONSERVATION in South Africa List of ALL PROJECTS in South Africa 

SUMMARY FACTFILE
Start Dates All year round - you choose your start and finish dates.
Duration From 3 weeks to 6 months or longer, subject to visa requirements
Requirements No qualifications needed. Minimum age 17.
Price Full Price List
What's included Arranging your program,
Full pre-departure support and assistance,
Payment Protection insurance
Accommodation

Meeting you at the nearest airport
First 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 Flights, Insurance, Cost of Visas (if a visa is required), Return transfer to airport.
Who can do this Project? This project 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 delivery van!
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 development.

  • 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!

CONSERVATION: THE GREAT WHITE SHARK PROJECT, NEAR CAPE TOWN

WORK CONTENT
The Shark Conservation organisation you'll work with is dedicated to the exploration and conservation of Sharks and the preservation of their 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.

When you 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.

Your Training:
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 days.

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.

A TYPICAL DAY:
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 as well.

Research:
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.

Volunteer Requirements:
You
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 to survive.

Travellers partners 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.

The organisation 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

CONSERVATION: THE GREAT WHITE SHARK PROJECT, NEAR CAPE TOWN

CONSERVATION: THE GREAT WHITE SHARK PROJECT, NEAR CAPE TOWN
The Shark Cage

CONSERVATION: THE GREAT WHITE SHARK PROJECT, NEAR CAPE TOWN

ACCOMMODATION:

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:
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.

You'll 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.)

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Got any questions? Please email us: info@travelersworldwide.org

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 Cape Town.

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 mind.    Self-reliance and independence are highly appreciated in all our destinations and will help you to make the most of this wonderful opportunity!    

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.

  

Feedback on theGreat White Shark Conservation Project in South Africa


Photo Galleries
Knysna Diary
Wildlife Rehabilitation Diary
Wildlife Expedition News!


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 surface.

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.

CONSERVATION: THE GREAT WHITE SHARK PROJECT, NEAR CAPE TOWN



OPTIONAL ADD-ON ACTIVITIES:

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.

Wildlife Safaris & Adventure Tour Combos
4-Day Surf Safari and Wildlife Adventure
1-Day Adventure Activities in Cape Town
1-Week Wildlife Rehabilitation

1-Week Whales Sharks Dolphins
Cage Dive with Sharks

 

This 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.

LOCATION:
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 White.

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 – African
  • Seal – Cape Fur
  • Dolphin – Bottlenose, Common and Humpback

ACTIVITIES IN CAPE TOWN
Adrenaline Activities -
Enjoy exciting and “real” adventures with an adrenaline twist!

  • Abseiling
  • Sandboarding
  • Deep-sea Angling
  • ‘Kloofing’ (insanely jumping off very high cliffs into pools of water!)
  • Paragliding
  • Helicopter flips
  • Bungee jumping (just up the coast)
  •  …..and a LOT, LOT more!!!!

      Township 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.

      Cape 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 best wines.

     Relaxing drives: 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 of cafes and restaurants with 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 click here.

Support & Backup: To read about the excellent Support & Backup we provide before you leave and during your program, please click here.

 

 

 

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