Come face to face with one of the world’s most infamous predators whilst aiding great white shark conservation.
About the Project
This project is an operation dedicated in preserving this fantastic predator and its environment and helping in vital great white shark conservation. It also serves to educate people on why it is essential to conserve this species. The project works with students, eco-tourists, conservation organizations and marine resource users to gather data on the sharks, helping to correct negative misconceptions about them and stop the needless slaughter of over 100 million sharks annually.
Owing to massive negative media publicity over the years, sharks have become one of the most maligned, misunderstood, and even hated species on our fragile planet. They have been pursued, hunted and indiscriminately slaughtered to the point where many species are now critically endangered – certain shark species have experienced population declines of over 90% in the last thirty five years.
Unsustainable fishing practices, dorsal fin poaching, and environmental degradation compounded by relatively slow breeding cycles are all factors contributing to the potential demise of these amazing creatures.
South Africa has long been known for its abundance of Great White Sharks, making it a prime area to observe these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. The Great White Shark Project is a commercial operation, dedicated to educating and preserving the world’s greatest predator and its environment. The project works with eco-tourists, conservation organizations and marine resource users (subsistence fishermen, sport divers and dive operators) to gather data on Great White Sharks and help correct negative misconceptions about this species.
For cage-dives, a specially-designed, secure, five-man steel cage is used, which floats on the water's surface, with divers no more than 1m below the surface. Volunteers are 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.
Prior to Arrival
Holders of UK, most other EU counties, Australian, Canadian and USA passports do not require a Visa for South Africa. Upon entry you will be issued with a 3- month permit (at no cost). Make sure the correct date and length of stay in the country is entered onto your visa when at immigration. If you are travelling from Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Russian Federation, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Algeria, Angola, Comoros, China, Egypt, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mexico, Madagascar, Morocco, Mozambique, Paraguay, Rwanda, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia or Vietnam, you will require a Visa and should consult your South African embassy.
Day 1 - The Adventure Begins:
After your flight arrives into South Africa via Cape Town International Airport, you will be transferred to The Atlantic Point Hostel where you will be spending your first night.
Day 2 - Transferred to Project Site:
In the morning, you will be met by a project representative and transferred to project site in Kleinbaai. On arrival in Kleinbaai you will be taken out on the boat as a guest to spot some sharks and really get your project off to a good start! After your trip you will return to the project site where you will have the chance to settle in.
Day 3-14 - Project Days:
The volunteer programme is primarily focused on the project's Great white shark cage diving eco-tourism and you will enjoy regular trips to sea to view and cage dive with the great whites. You probably have the opportunity to participate in the following activities:
Great White shark cage diving
Project facilitators use a specially designed and secure five man steel cage to conduct dives. This floats on the surface, and divers are no more than 1m below the surface at any point. As a shark conservation volunteer you will be taught how to get in and out of the cage and how to remain secure and safe in the shark diving cage. Cage divers are responsible for recording observations on the great whites, including sex, size, markings and behaviour.
White Shark Field Research Data Collection
You 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 and pointing out any sharks you spot. You will be learning about the behaviour of the great whites, their history, and the urgent need for their research and on wider great white shark conservation initiatives. You will also receive lectures on their biology, shark conservation, and status in the waters of the cape.
Basic Seamanship and Boat Skills
All volunteers are also taught basic seaman skills including boat handling on board in a practical environment. This includes general boat maintenance, packing and cleaning of equipment and bait, anchor positioning (deployment and retrieval), great white shark cage diving deployment (attachment and retrieval), knots, assisting clients as needed, as well as general safety and good safe crewing practices.
Assisting at Swop-Shop
Every Tuesday, you will be expected to help out at the ‘Swop Shop’, a new project that promotes recycling, environmental awareness, sustainable practices, self-reliance, and also helps to provide for the needs of the local children. The project encourages these children to collect recyclable rubbish and litter from the street and from their homes. They then earn points for what they collect, and this can be used to ‘buy’ school stationery and clothes in the Swop-Shop.
Day 15 - Final Day:
This is your final day and you will leave the project site to go back to Cape Town to transfer to the airport for an evening return flight, or commence independent travel plans.
On days where you can’t go out to sea (as this shark conservation project is completely dependent on weather and sea conditions), you will be taken on various excursions. These include wine tasting in Stellenbosch, a visit to the penguins at Boulders Beach or a trip to Cape Agulhas, the southernmost point of Africa.
You will need to arrive into Cape Town Airport on the start date of your project where you will be met and taken to a backpacker's hostel for the 1st night. The next morning you will be transferred to the project location in Kleinbaai; about a two hour drive away. Transfers to and from Cape Town are included in the project cost, however if you are not travelling back to Cape Town after your project you will need to arrange and pay for your own transfer.
Whilst on the project you will stay in a delightful brick house situated two minutes from the harbour, which bustles with action and boats as people head out to sea. 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 the evenings. There is a small supermarket nearby (volunteers usually buy provisions and prepare meals together) and the house is located is a very safe and beautiful area where you can freely walk around during the day.
Couples, friends or families volunteering together who wish private accommodation may reserve a double room at an additional cost. Private rooms cost R100 (~ £6.50) per night.
We supply breakfast at the volunteer house, this includes coffee, tea, milk, bread, cereals, juice and yogurt. Food and refreshments are supplied on the boat. This includes various sandwiches, chips / crisps, fruits, soft drinks, water and juice.
We will also take you shopping twice a week and everything you will need you can find there as you will be providing your own dinner. Once you are here, we can also discuss exactly what your dietary requirements are, but we have had vegan/vegetarian volunteers in the past without any problem.