White Shark Volunteering

Join the great white shark volunteering team now in Gansbaai (Western Cape, South Africa) for a minimum of 2 weeks (3 weeks recommended). Volunteer for one of the best White Shark companies in the country and become integral to the conservation of the greatest and yet most misunderstood, predatory force of the seas – the Great White Shark. Since 1989 the organisation, through research and education programmes, has been committed to dispelling the “Jaws” myth that gives these creatures such a bad reputation. Sharks are intelligent and vulnerable animals, and deserving of sympathy and respect. A complex and precious species, they are doing their best to survive.

If you decide to join the shark volunteering on this project your tasks might be white shark field research, data Collection, safety and secure check of the cages, shark spotting, bait watching, check equipment and will be taught about basic seamanship. The white shark fieldwork takes place around Dyer Island and other locations where sharks are abundant. Dyer Island (aka Shark Alley!) is arguably the best place in the world to see Great Whites.

Your role as volunteer

As a great white shark volunteer you will work with sharks from both above and below the water. You will observe the behaviour and 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 once inside it. Participants in the cages are taught to meticulously record their observations of the physical attributes and the behaviour of the Great White Sharks. Shark volunteering is an exciting, divers and unbelievable experience!

Cage Diving with Great White Sharks:

Once anchored in the channel, the project makes use of a specially designed, secure, five man steel cage, which floats on the surface, with divers no more than 1m below the surface. Volunteers will be taught how to get in and out of the cage and how to remain secure and safe in the cage. Cage divers are responsible for recording observations on the Great Whites, including sex, size, markings and behaviour. Diving takes place on a rotational basis on good diving days. The duration of each dive depends on the diver, the number of eco­tourists and the activity of the sharks, but could be up to 20 minutes per dive.

White Shark Field Research Data Collection:

Volunteers will be taught how to collect data in the field on free-swimming white sharks. At sea, you’ll be focused on working with the sharks from above and below the water, observing behaviour and the interactions of sharks around the boat. You will be educated in an informal environment, learning about the behaviour of the great whites, their history and the urgent need for research. You will also receive lectures on their biology, shark attack, current and past research techniques and conservation of great white sharks.

Basic Seamanship:

Volunteers will also be taught basic seaman skills including boat handling. This includes general boat maintenance, packing and cleaning, anchor positioning (deployment and retrieval), cage deployment (attachment and retrieval), knots, general safety and good safe crewing practices. Upon completion of the program, the project provides volunteers with a certificate of accomplishment. The program is designed to train and educate volunteers to a level of competence of a field assistant.

You will be able to go to sea a minimum of every other day. For example a 21 day stay enables you to go to sea at least 10 times. It can be more and they will do their best to accommodate you as often as possible. When on sea it may not be feasible for you to dive in the cage every trip but we will aim to give you a fair chance on cage diving.

Project Information

The project works with students, eco-tourists, conservation organizations and marine resource users (subsistence fishermen, sport divers and dive operators) to gather data on Great White Sharks, correct negative misconceptions about sharks, and stop the needless slaughter of over 100 million sharks annually.

The Great White Shark Project runs out of Kleinbaai, which is just outside of Gansbaai, South Africa – a seaside village located approximately two hours southeast of Cape Town on the Atlantic Ocean coast. The shark trips primarily take place off Dyer and Geyser Islands, about 6 nautical miles (11 km) or a 20 minute boat trip offshore.

The boat anchors in the 6 meter deep channel (“Shark Alley”) between Dyer and Geyser Islands. Dyer Island (larger island) is a breeding ground for Jackass Penguins, Cape Cormorants and Gannets, while Geyser Rock (smaller island) is a breeding ground for approximately 60,000 Cape Fur Seals. Shark Alley is a magnet for Great White Sharks due to this breeding colony of seals, their favourite prey, and is a wonderful area for cage diving as there are reefs, islands, and huge kelp beds which all provide protection from the open sea swell and wind. In the summer months they work off¬shore closer to Joubert’s Dam.

Please note: the cage diving location is subject to change depending on the weather conditions and location of the sharks.

Orientation

Welcome and induction by a White Shark Volunteering team leader and you got lectures on a variety of shark related topics.

Accommodation and transfer

Volunteers stay in a delightful face brick house situated two minutes from the harbour, which bustles with action and boats as people head out to sea. Overlooking the Indian Ocean, the house is very comfortable with dorm rooms, a nice kitchen, a dining area, a lounge with television and video/board games, and an outside entertainment area for those hot evenings.

There is a small supermarket nearby (volunteers usually buy provisions and prepare meals together) and the house is located in a very safe and beautiful area, where you can freely walk around any time of day or night.  Please be aware that Kleinbaai is renowned for its shark – and not its night life!  Nights can be a little quiet but having an enthusiastic group of volunteers that work well as a team both on and off sea provides entertainment in itself.  Couples, friends, and families volunteering together who prefer private accommodation may reserve a double room at an additional cost.

Guidance and Supervision

You will be working in conjunction with a qualified crew member of the White Shark Projects. These crew members are highly trained and know the dos and don’ts so you will be in capable hands.

A typical week at the project

Please note that these tasks may change from day to day. The white shark volunteering project is subject to weather and tide conditions, there is no such thing as a typical day, as volunteers do rotate, but here is an indication of what would be expected of you.

  • Boat check – daily as per boat check list in office
  • Ensure cleanliness of boat
  • Make sure equipment for diving, chumming, bait, food etc. are on boat
  • Assist with anchoring
  • Education of clients & general interaction with them
  • Assist clients as needed
  • Preparing and distributing wet-suits to clients
  • Chumming
  • Data Recording
  • Data Capturing
  • Writing for their blog about your experience
  • Constant & vigilant shark spotting & bait watching
  • Point out sharks to crew, clients & fellow volunteers
  • Clean boat post ­trip
  • Clean & put wet-suits away
  • Tuesdays – assist at the Swop Shop (see below) with Recycling
On non­sea days you will be taken on various excursions, such as wine tasting, a visit to the penguins or to the most Southern point of Africa.

Cost & Inclusive / Exclusive

The first three weeks of shark volunteering cost ZAR 5,500.- per week
Every extra week of shark volunteering total costs ZAR 3,000.- for every extra week
Do bear in mind that the shark volunteering programme was designed for 21 days, so we strongly recommend you stay at least 21 days.

Inclusive
  • Accommodation
  • Training
  • Sea Experiences
  • Shark Cage Experience
Exclusive
  • Meals
  • Travel expenses
  • Personal expenses

Arrival dates

The program starts every month on the 1st and the 15th of every month.

Please read our terms & conditions to inform yourself on the booking procedures
Kindly note that the prices and accommodation are subject to change based on date, availability and special requests.
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