Company : Travellers Worldwide
Activities: Dolphin Watching Tours / Marine Conservation Volunteer / Whale Watching Tours / Animal Volunteer Projects / Expeditions / Conservation Volunteer Projects / Wildlife Tours
Country: South Africa
Location : Near Cape Town
Duration: 1 week to 3 months
Approx Costs: 750 to 3000+ £ Pound (UK)

This placement is exciting! Here you'll have the opportunity to work with sharks, whales, penguins, tourism, research and community development.

Sharks, Whales, Penguins, Seals, Dolphins... this is an extraordinary and exciting project in a beautiful location, surrounded by white beaches and blue ocean. And two hours from the world's third favourite city - Cape Town. What more could anyone want?



Go on whale watching trips that are not just magical but rewarding too. See penguins dancing on the sand, they defy imagination and touch your heart. Laugh at the antics of hundreds of seals in their colonies on Dyer Island. And of course there's the Great White Shark, the greatest predatory force of the seas that remains a mystery to man.



  • An exciting, never-to-be-forgotten adventure into Africa and the many diverse cultures in South Africa
  • The enormous satisfaction of knowing that your 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!



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.

The sharks have been awesome. The largest one I've seen so far was a 3.5m shark nicknamed "Slashfin" because her dorsal fin is cut. She looks a lot bigger up close, I can tell you! Got to see a "predation" as well - a shark take out a seal. Was all over in a matter of minutes, just a pool of blood on the surface to tell the tale. Also saw a Southern Right whale out on the water which was pretty cool. Andrew Burge

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



Weather permitting you'll go out to sea frequently. At sea, you'll get involved as much as possible with all aspects of sea work. Much emphasis will be placed on observing behaviour and the interactions of marine species around the boat. You'll record your observations onto datasheets, including data such as sex, size, markings and behaviour.

There is a great variety of work that you'll be doing and this will largely depend on what work is required at the time you are there. Seasons play a great part in the work as well because the different species come and go according to their seasonally-driven behavioural patterns.

For example, during the summer time (November through to February), MD (the organisation we work with) are very involved in Tourist trips and dives. These trips and tourist-related activities are crucially important because they provide the funds that are used for MD's research and community development projects. During these months, there is a possibility that you'll be called on to provide more help with the tourists and less help with the marine research.



Much emphasis is 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. You may have to record observations of the White Sharks. This will include sex, size, markings and behaviour. You might be asked to help fill in data sheets for the sharks they spot day to day.

Individual recognition of sharks is achieved through photographing dorsal fins, marks, scars and colouration. A shark log is kept for each shark. The objectives of the research are to collate a database of dorsal fin data which are used to identify individual animals, to ascertain why the sharks use this area and how long they stay, to study the behaviour of sharks in their natural environment and in the vicinity of shark-cage diving boats, as well as to obtain a population estimate.



On the whale boat you will help to GPS all the whales, birds and dolphins. You may also get involved in helping to rescue animals in need, such as oiled, sick and injured penguins and birds.



Depending on your previous experience, you are likely to learn many new skills, from running a boat and keeping it in a good working order, to identifying the sharks and other marine life and learning their behaviour. Sometimes researchers use the boat trips to collect data, so speaking to them will teach you a lot as well.



  • 5-DAY OR 7-DAY SAFARI from Cape Town up the renowned Garden Route: taking in Dolphin and Whale Spotting, visits to many tourist attractions, such as a visit to a brewery(!), the Bloukrantz Bungy Jump (reportedly the highest in the world), and a guided tour of the Cango Caves.
  • SURFING COURSES: In the buzz city of Durban.
  • PARAGLIDING COURSE: Soar over the impressively beautiful Drakensburg Mountain. You'll get a licence at the end of the course which qualifies you to do solo paragliding around the world.



Your accommodation will be in a comfortable house in Kleinbaai. You will stay in a shared dorm room and you have the use of a bathroom, a kitchen, lounge area, and courtyard braai area. The house is situated within a short 10 mins walking distance from the ‘The Great White House’, which is the project office and meeting point for tourists. There is a shop, café and internet.

Start Dates

Flexible start and finish dates you choose. Our placements are flexible and can be tailored to match your preferences. For availability please contact the office.

Costs / Benefits

- Costs vary depending on length of placement, but starts at £795 for one week. You can participate for up to three months, subject to visa requirements.
- Included is full support from the moment of booking and throughout your placement to your return home. There are support staff 24/7 in all our destinations worldwide and a 24 hour emergency international telephone line direct to the Head Office. Accommodation is provided (whether a rented house, a hotel/hostel, homestay, apartment or flat).
- You’ll be met at the nearest airport on your arrival by our in-country manager who will take you to your accommodation and give you a full induction into the area. He/she will also be on call 24/7 and you’ll see them frequently.
- Pre-departure you’ll receive comprehensive information about every aspect of your placement and necessary preparations, ranging from what to pack, to visa information, to what to do on your weekend travel in the country. Your safety, well being and happiness throughout your placement are our primary concerns and we will keep in touch with you throughout. International flights not included.


No qualifications or previous experience are necessary, just a good dose of enthusiasm! Everyone is welcome to apply! From 17 years old upwards, and all nationalities. This placement would suit anyone who wants to make a real difference, wants first-hand experience of a different culture and has initiative.

Booking / Enquiry

Booking Enquiry