Shark & Marine Research Institute

founded in 2015
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Coordinator | Samantha
Coordinator | Samantha
Prenota con l'opzione Flex! Scegliete nuove date di partenza o passate a un altro programma di volontariato senza costi aggiuntivi.
We are committed to the conservation of sharks, other marine creatures and our oceans through dedicated research and community outreach projects. This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Age 16+
Sedie a Rotelle
Our Shark & Marine Research Institute is dedicated to protecting and conserving sharks and other elasmobranchs, and safeguarding the health and vitality of our oceans. We are based in Gansbaai, South Africa, roughly two hours from Cape Town up the east coast. The bay we work in is an incredibly rich ecosystem that provides a vital habitat for an array of marine life, including great white sharks.

Our programme offers a unique opportunity to be involved with groundbreaking research studying great whites, as well as the smaller sharks and other elasmobranch species along our coast, many of which are data deficient. Our research is focused on gaining much-needed  information about these amazing and enigmatic creatures who are so crucial to our oceans yet have reached such a critical mass. Through our work we hope to support their preservation in the long-term.

During your stay you will play a vital role in our field research, learning practical and theoretical skills including but not limited to great white shark observational data collection, great white shark dorsal fin analysis, ethical handling and angling of sharks, shark tagging and genetic sampling. You will also gain sea experience on our white shark cage diving tourist boat, and will have opportunities to enter the cage yourself.

You will see and learn about a wide array of other South African  marine wildlife, and be involved in exciting community and environmental outreach initiatives. With all sharks - including our magnificent great white sharks - declining in number, our mission is to explore, discover and monitor our elasmobranch species through various scientific research projects, and in turn we hope to help protect the long term future of these species by translating this knowledge into evidence-based conservation initiatives. 


• Guests can expect to participate in every research project that is running at that time.
• As much of the work is weather dependent, the timetable/working hours are subject to change, but guests should expect to work some long days and some weekends. Outreach and educational activities may require after hour/weekend work.
• You will normally have 1-2 days off a week. It will normally be at the weekend but the off days will vary according to the weather and our opportunities to be at sea. The off-days are the chance for you to relax, plan your own activities and explore the area, or perhaps take a trip to Cape Town!

There are no vaccination requirements as the Western Cape is far from all malaria zones and there are no strange African diseases in the area (given you respect the safety rules as anywhere else in the world). Some travel sites recommend you have your Hepatitis A, Typhoid and Hepatitis B vaccinations but this is at your discretion as it is not a specific requirement to enter the country, and is perhaps more relevant if you are travelling to other areas in South Africa or Africa. We recommend you speak to your local healthcare practitioner and decide accordingly.  Please also check with your local travel agency for updates on any disease outbreaks and any precautions to take in South Africa.


Come join us and make a positive difference to the world’s oceans!

Typical day

On some days you may have an early start, whilst on others you may start later in the day depending on the times of our trips to sea and on weather/tide etc. A typical day at our programme includes one or two trips on our white shark cage diving boat, or one trip on our research boat, or a day conducting other field work from land such as snorkelling surveys or shore fishing surveys.

You will generally be involved with the following: assisting with gathering important data on white sharks and other sharks on board our shark cage diving tourist vessel and our research boat. Collected data contributes to our on-going population monitoring study and growth rate estimation study on white sharks. Volunteers will also learn ethical handling and angling techniques of smaller sharks, learn how to tag and take genetic samples, all of which is contributing to our baseline study on elasmobranchs. Other activities include participation in community events, such as workshops and presentations for local schools and beach clean-ups. Weather dependent, volunteers can expect to partake in one of these activities every day. Some days you may be at sea all day, whilst other days you may be finished by midday or early afternoon.  Other activities which you may find yourself being involved with during your time here include participation in community events, such as workshops and presentations for local schools, beach clean-ups, dissections and assisting with our social media pages. Any free time in the afternoons and evenings are generally rest, recovery or data entry time.

Much of our work is weather dependent, so the timetable/working hours are subject to change, but volunteers should expect to work some long days and some weekends. Outreach and educational activities may require after hours/weekend work. They normally have 1-2 days off a week, usually at the weekend, however, the off days will vary according to the weather and our opportunities to be at sea. The off-days provide the chance for the volunteers to relax, explore the area or perhaps take an excursion further afield.

Free-time activities

If we have a number of consecutive bad weather days (and provided we have time) we  generally organize other educational activities or excursions as an alternative to conducting onshore research projects.  While our day-to-day activities are covered by the programme fee, most free-time activities will be at the cost of our volunteers - so please enquire should you require basic costing for these external activities. (We receive discounted rates on some of these so please check with us before you book.) None of them are compulsory - we tailor our activities to individual preferences and budgets, so you are free to arrange activities of your choice on days when we are unable to go to sea, or after-hours - we will gladly help you with any recommendations/planning/bookings you require. That said - ou are also welcome to simply indulge in R&R on these days or organise your own activities if you prefer!

A list of possible excursions can be seen below:
• A trip to Cape Agulhas – the Southernmost point of Africa
• A visit to Betty’s Bay to see the Stony Point penguin colony

• A visit to the local heritage site Klipgat Cave
• Kelp diving at Stanford Cove

• Hikes in the local area
• Horse riding trips in the local area
• Quadbiking
• Paintballing
• Ziplining
• Shopping excursions in Hermanus or Cape Town
• Wine farm tours and tastings
• A visit to an abalone farm in Hermanus
• A visit to Danger Point Lighthouse
• A visit to the local cat sanctuary
• River boat cruises along Stanford River
• Surfing or SCUBA diving
• Visit to the Two Oceans Aquarium and the Waterfront in Cape Town
• Two Oceans Aquarium shark tank dives can be arranged
• Offshore dive past Cape Point to see blue and mako sharks can be arranged
• Dive to see sevengill sharks in Cape Town can be arranged
• Seal snorkelling in Cape Town
• A trip up the East Coast to visit one of the Elephant Parks
• Bloukrans bungee jump on the East Coast
• Safari Trips

Water Sports


In order to join the program you need to be at least 16 years old on the program start date.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (basic level)
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
Basic English and fitness.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on lunedì, martedì, mercoledì, giovedì and venerdì from 07:30 - 14:30

Servizi inclusi

Services by Shark & Marine Research Inst.

Your fees go towards your accommodation whilst on the programme (including one nights accommodation in Cape Town), basic food stuffs for the duration of your time with us, the cost of your trips on our cage diving and research vessels, the cost of all snorkel / tagging / BRUVs and other research gear necessary, transport (including transfers from the airport and to and from Cape Town, as well as all transport whilst on the programme), lectures and training sessions, certain outreach and extramural activities. 

Included in the programme:

• Transfers from and to Cape Town International Airport
• Transfers to and from Gansbaai
• Accommodation whilst on the programme
• Breakfast basics and lunch on working days
• Lectures
• Welcome pack (including information about the programme, warm top, caps, t-shirt, buff and DVD of bonus white shark footage)
• Waterproof deck boots to use for the duration of your stay
• Boat trips (minimum of 4 per month if weather permits)
• Opportunity to cage dive with white sharks
• Practical training in all running projects
• White shark data collection on cage diving trips
• Studying white shark behaviour and demographics
• Data analysis
• Elasmobranch and seal surveys
• Rocky shores surveys
• Marine debris surveys
• Outreach activities
• Training in boat-handling skills

Not included in the programme: 

• Flight ticket, visas (we can assist with advice if necessary), medical and travel insurance, meals (other than basics
provided for breakfast and light lunch on working days), any additional lodging in Cape Town prior to the programme or on departure, if required.

Airport Pickup at Cape Town International Airport

On arrival in Cape Town guests will be collected from Cape Town International Airport and transferred to our selected accommodation in Cape Town, or alternatively directly to the programme (depending on your arrival time at CPT International Airport). You may stay one night in Cape Town (should your flight times demand it) and be picked up the following morning for the transfer to the project site - Gansbaai.


Our beautiful, comfortable volunteer house is located in Kleinbaai roughly a two-minute drive or a ten-minute walk from the harbour where we launch. It is a home away from home with all necessary amenities. There are magnificent coastal and mountain views and a host of marine and mountain outdoor activities for you to explore in your free time. Volunteers should expect and be prepared to share rooms.

Kleinbaai is a small, quiet town; we are just a few minutes’ walk from the ocean and there are lots of beaches, hiking trails and other outdoor activities available. The local town Gansbaai is just a five-minute drive away and has a number of restaurants and shops should you want to go out or need to buy any supplies. There are magnificent coastal and mountain views and a host of marine and mountain outdoor activities for you to explore in your free time. We encourage a social environment in the project house and suggest that you cook together, have movie nights, game nights and braai nights! On your first night we will organize a welcome braai with all the guests and staff so you can get to know everyone who will be around during your stay. 

Please note:
• You may need to share - we take up to 8 guests at a time (rooms will be single sex unless requested by a couple)
• Fully furnished
• Linen provided
• Emergency numbers provided
• Host and/or programme manager always available
• Vehicle with all safety permits and regulations for transport of guests to all work related activities and for excursions on no sea days
• Wireless Internet
• Domestic worker
• Laundry service provided

Dorm Room Bedroom (Double)
Food & Beverages

We provide all meal basics - there are always breakfast and lunch ingredients in the house as well as basic cooking ingredients should you wish to make dinner. Any other entertainment is at your own expense. You will also be responsible for your own food when out doing activities or
on excursions, or if you choose to visit a restaurant or bar after hours.

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.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Cape Town International Airport (CPT) in Cape Town. We assist you to find cheap flights to Sudafrica.
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 Sudafrica provides security and is a plus to have.
If you are intending to volunteer in Sudafrica you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Sudafrica.

Date e Prezzi


Details on arrival

We welcome volunteers on an ongoing basis throughout the year, except for the period from 15 December to 15 January, when we close for our annual holidays. Programme start dates are officially on the 1st and 15th of each month, however, we are flexible on this and will endeavour to accommodate volunteers if and when we can should they commit to a minimum of one week at the programme. The meeting point is Cape Town International Airport, participants will need to organise their own flights to Cape Town International and will be picked up from there on arrival.

gen feb mar apr maggio giu lug ago set ott nov dic
1 - 12 weeks

Program fees

Costs: Prices in USD
1 week (min. stay)
2 weeks
3 weeks
4 weeks
8 weeks
12 weeks (max. stay)
Average fees
$723 /week

Si prega di notare che le tariffe sopra indicate sono stimate. Shark & Marine Research Inst. vi informerà sul prezzo finale durante il processo di candidatura.
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 Shark & Marine Research Inst. during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

Perché prenotare con Volunteer World

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Opzione Flex
Cambia la tua prenotazione senza costi aggiuntivi
Garanzia di Rimborso
Vi rimborsiamo le spese se Shark & Marine Research Inst. annulla il vostro viaggio
Supporto & Mediazione
Ti copriamo le spalle, qualunque cosa accada
I nostri servizi sono gratuiti!
Tutti i costi del programma sono addebitati direttamente da Shark & Marine Research Inst..

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Shark & Marine Research Institute

We are committed to the conservation of sharks, other marine creatures and our oceans through dedicated research and community outreach projects.


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