Sharklife Internship

founded in 2005
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Coordinator | Candice
Coordinator | Candice
Book with Flex Option! Choose new departure dates or change to a different volunteer program at no extra costs.


Get close to sharks
Get an accredited Freediving certification
Examine real shark and ray specimens
Study in a World Heritage Site
Encounter diverse marine mega fauna and dive in warm clear ocean environments
This one-of-kind internship is suited to ocean enthusiasts and aspiring marine biologists looking for worthwhile field experience with a diverse range of shark species. This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Age 18+

Established in 2005 as a non-profit organization, Sharklife works to address the alarming exploitation of both shark populations and ocean fisheries in South African waters. Our marine internship programs aim to nurture shark conservation ambassadors through knowledge developmenthands-on training and many hours on the ocean encountering a multitude of marine wildlife. 

 "The overall goal of the program is to imprint a deeper understanding of the shark species in the minds of participants" 

Sodwana Bay is located in Northern Kwa-Zulu Natal South Africa. The village borders the pristine world heritage site known as the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. The park is South Africa's third-largest protected area, spanning 280 km of coastline and is one of the top ten dive destinations in the world. The coral reefs contain over 1 200 species of fish as well as a variety of underwater seascapes and marine flora and fauna making it a prime area to view sharks in their natural habitat. 

Key Benefits:

  • Research sharks
  • Gain field experience
  • Develop watermanship skills (freediving, boating)
  • Examine real specimens 
  • Encounter diverse marine mega fauna
  • Dive in warm clear ocean environments
  • Visit nearby Big 5 Game Reserves (optional extra +-$100)
  • Study in a World Heritage Site
  • Support a long-standing non-profit shark conservation organization

Field Course Components:

  1. Watermanship -  Develops your all-round ability to work in ocean environments 
  2. Shark and Ray Biology - Broadens your understanding of key areas of shark and ray biology
  3. Shark Identification and Behavior -  Enables you to identify sharks in the field and recognize different behaviors
  4. Shark Research Methodologies - Increases your understanding of shark research methods
  5. Shark Conservation and Advocacy -  Empowers you to promote shark conservation ideals objectively

Additional activities are varied depending on current programs at the Sharklife Ocean Center.

  • Assist with educating local school groups
  • Develop displays for the shark museum
  • Maintain research equipment 
  • Catalog museum specimens
  • Collate and input research data

Typical day

Your days will be divided into land days and ocean days, depending on weather conditions.

Typical Land Day:

Theory sessions are given in our auditorium using graphics, videos, and models to enhance your theoretical understanding of sharks. Interns use this opportunity to ask questions and discuss prevalent conservation topics. Interns are also tasked with collating research data and developing reports of findings.

We then move to the lab where we conduct various examinations of the specimens we have preserved, either frozen, dried or in solution. which enables interns to get a feel of the various anatomical features.

The rest of the day may be allocated to extra activities happening in the center at the time such as; museum display development and boat maintenance, etc. 

Typical Ocean Day:

After preparing the boat and equipment for the sea we head to the beach. Interns assist directly with all beach and boating logistics.  

We launch through the surf and make our way along the coastline to the designated study area.  We conduct various in-water surveys, record sightings data, location, and environmental conditions. 

Free-time activities

  1. The most popular free-time activity is a day trip to the Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve. The park is home to Africa's big five: elephant, rhinoceros (black/hook-lipped and white/square-lipped), Cape buffalo, lion, and leopard.
  2. You can just relax on the pristine beaches of Sodwana Bay.
  3. For the more adventurous, you can embark on a microlight flight over the coastline
  4. There are also quad bike tours of the local lake systems and forests. 
  5. You can scuba dive on the world renowned reefs of Sodwana Bay. 


In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s) or if your are accompanied by your parents.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (intermediate level)
Education Requirements
Marine Sciences, Biology & Conservation (not essential) at High school level
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
Being able to swim is a requirement.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 08:00 - 15:00

What's Included

Services by Sharklife Conservation Group
As the project is based in a remote rural area there are extra expenses involved in providing similar services to those found in developed countries. Nonetheless, we have tried our best to balance the costs to make your trip both affordable and comfortable. 

Cost Areas:
  • Airport transfers 
  • Accommodation
  • Lectures, materials, certifications
  • Park entry fees
  • Boating expenses
  • Freediving training
  • Dive gear
  • Wifi
  • 24hr support

Food and Drinks:
There are daily trips to the local supermarket where all common food and beverages are available. 
There are two restaurants within walking distance should you wish to grab a bite to eat instead of cooking.
Airport Pickup at Richards Bay Airport

You will be met at the airport by a Sharklife staff member. We have a 2 hour (200km) drive back to Sodwana Bay where you will settle into your accommodation, so please try to arrive at Richards Bay airport as early as possible on the start date. 


You will be situated within the intern camp located next to the Sharklife Ocean Center. 

We have a total of five rooms.

Four rooms which are small yet secure and private which share 2 toilet/shower rooms.

One room is shared and is en-suite.

The kitchen and communal areas are spacious and well equip. We do have a washing machine in the common area for you to do some laundry.

There are shops and bars within walking distance of the camp. 

Internet Access
Good access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees. Food, snacks or beverages are at extra costs.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Richards Bay Airport (RCB) in Richards Bay. We assist you to find cheap flights to South Africa.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for South Africa provides security and is a plus to have.
If you are intending to volunteer in South Africa you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for South Africa.

Dates & Fees


Details on arrival

Start Dates:

2-week internship:

1st - 14th July 2020 
1st - 14th August 2020
29th Aug - 11th September 2020
27th Sep - 10th October 2020
25th Oct - 7th November 2020
26th Nov - 9th December 2020
22nd Dec - 5th Jan 2021
18th Jan - 1st Feb 2021
14th Feb - 27th Feb 2021
13th March - 26th March 2021
9th April - 22nd April 2021 
6th May - 19th May 2021 
2nd June - 15th June 2021 
30th June - 13th July 2021 
27th July - 9th Aug 2021 
23rd Aug - 5th Sep 2021 
19th Sep - 2nd Oct 2021 
16th Oct - 29th Oct 2021 
12th Nov - 25th Nov 2021 
9th Dec - 22nd Dec 2021 
5th Jan 2022 - 18th Jan 2022

1-month internships:

1st Feb - 2nd March 2020
2nd Apr - 1st May 2020
1st May - 1st June 2020
1st Jun - 1st July 2020
1st Jul - 1st August 2020
1st Aug - 29th August 2020
29th Aug - 27th September 2020
27th Sep - 25th October 2020
25th Oct - 26th November 2020
26th Nov - 22nd December 2020
22nd Dec - 18th Jan 2021 
18th Jan - 14th Feb 2021 
14th Feb - 13th March 2021 
13th March - 9th April 2021 
9th April - 6th May 2021 
6th May - 2nd June 2021 
2nd June - 30th June 2021 
30th June - 27th July 2021 
27th July - 23rd Aug 2021 
23rd Aug - 19th Sep 2021 
19th Sep - 16th Oct 2021 
16th Oct - 12th Nov 2021 
12th Nov - 9th Dec 2021 
9th Dec - 5th Jan 2022 
5th Jan 2022 - 1st Feb 2022 
1st Feb 2022 - 28th Feb 2022

2-Month internships:

1st Jul - 29th Aug 2020
1st Aug - 27th Sep 2020
29th Aug - 25th Oct 2020 
27th Sep - 26th Nov 2020
25th Oct - 22nd Dec 2020
26th Nov - 18th Jan 2021
22nd Dec - 14th Feb 2021
18th Jan - 13th March 2021
14th Feb - 9th April 2021
13th March - 6th May 2021
9th April - 2nd June 2021
6th May - 27th July 2021
2nd June - 23rd Aug 30th June - 19th Sep 27th July - 16th Oct 23rd Aug - 12th Nov 19th Sep - 9th Dec 16th Oct - 5th Jan 2022 12th Nov - 1st Feb 2022 9th Dec - 28th Feb 2022 5th Jan 2022 - 2nd March 2022 1st Feb 2022 - 27th March 2022 28th Feb 2022 - 24th April 2022

3-Month internships:

1st Jul - 27th September 2020
29th Aug - 26th November 2020
27th Sep - 22nd December 2020
25th Oct - 18th Jan 2021
26th Nov - 14th Feb 2021
22nd Dec - 16th March 2021 
18th Jan - 9th April 2021 
14th Feb - 6th May 2021 
13th March - 2nd June 2021 
9th April - 30th June 2021 
6th May - 27th July 2021 
2nd June - 23rd Aug 2021 
30th June - 19th Sep 2021 
27th July - 16th Oct 2021
23rd Aug - 12th Nov 2021 
19th Sep - 9th Dec 2021 
16th Oct - 5th Jan 2022 
12th Nov - 1st Feb 2022
9th Dec 2021 - 28th Feb 2022 
5th Jan 2022 - 27th March 2022
1st Feb 2022 - 24th April 2022 28th Feb 2022 - 22nd May 2022

Please book flights to arrive as early as possible in Richards Bay, we have a 2-hour drive back to Sodwana Bay.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2 - 12 weeks

Program fees

Costs: Prices in USD
2 weeks (min. stay)
4 weeks
8 weeks
12 weeks (max. stay)
Average fees
$529 /week

Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated. Sharklife Conservation Group will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with Sharklife Conservation Group during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

Why book with Volunteer World

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Quality Assurance
High ethical standards & transparent social impact
Flex Option
Change your reservation at no extra costs
Refund Guarantee
We refund your fees if Sharklife Conservation Group cancels your trip
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Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by Sharklife Conservation Group.

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Sharklife Internship

This one-of-kind internship is suited to ocean enthusiasts and aspiring marine biologists looking for worthwhile field experience with a diverse range of shark species.



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