Great White Shark & Xtreme Marine ConservationBook Now
The Great White shark conservation project takes place in Gansbaai, the worlds number one Shark Diving destination.
The work you do can help the world’s top apex predator.
As a volunteer you will be part of the shark team and assist in documenting shark activity by using aerial surveys of the island. You will be given a unique opportunity to view this magnificent animal in its natural environment by going out 5 days a week, either by boat or even more excitingly in an underwater cage. You will be part of a team of Great White shark experts and other volunteers. The experts will provide you with all the knowledge you need, at the end of the programme you know all about the Great White through informative lectures and research.
Your lectures while on the programme consist of:
- Basic Shark biology
- Research and conservation
- Shark behaviour
- Changing attitudes
- Shark Attacks
- Basic seamanship (including anchoring positions, wind directions, currents)
- Cage diving procedures (procedures in the cage with and without regulator)
- Underwater filming
- Still photography
- Shark tourism
You will then have the chance to put this into good use, assisting in the conservation and research of the Great White. If the weather permits you will undertake frequent trips out to sea. Whilst at sea, the team will get you as involved as possible with all aspects of sea work, focusing on working with the sharks from below and above the water.
This programme does not have a set itinerary. Please request trip notes for more information on the day to day aspects of the project. Preferred start dates are the 1st and 15th of the Month with arrival and pick up in Cape Town. Every day is better than the previous one! You get to learn a lot about sharks by having some lectures and by being free to ask any questions to the crew. The days are never tiring or boring as you get to work in shifts on the boat. On days off there are plenty of activities to do. You can go for example to Cape Aghulus, where the Atlantic and Indian Ocean meet. Can you imagine being on the most southern tip of Africa? Of a whole continent?! The view is quite spectacular! What do you do on the boat? On the boat you help tourists to get ready to go in the cage: like giving wet suits, giving them a mask and weights, making sure everything is ok. You get the chance to go in the cage as well! You will be chumming (chopping up fish to feed the Great Whites so they come closer): You get to have a shower at the end of the day so it is not important how much you smell or are dirty! Everyone enjoys chumming because it´s the place where you can see the sharks well, since they are attracted by the smell. The accommodation is really nice! They are very cozy with a lounge area and a big kitchen! The fact that there is a kitchen is nice because we can decide whether to cook or go out for dinner.
Hands on conservation for the Great White Shark
This is your chance to become actively involved in the conservation of the Great White shark on your gap year. The Great White shark is arguably one of the worlds greatest predators, and at the same time under threat from ill educated and unethical activities conducted by mankind. Sport fisheries, which seek their jaws as trophies, and being accidentally caught in commercial fisheries are only two of the sharks enemies, but the deliberate killing of sharks by Asian fishermen which prize their fins for a bland tasting soup sees over 200 million sharks killed per year (across all shark species).
Help stop the decline of the oceans top predator
The Great White shark conservation is more important now than ever, with severe declines being documented in Northwest Atlantic, Australia, and Northeast South Africa. This fantastic opportunity gives you the chance to actually physically contribute to Great White shark conservation in South Africa, one of the worlds leading hot spots for Great White shark activity.
During the programme
On this conservation programme you will join a world leading organization dedicated on protecting the Great White shark, operating in Great White shark conservation since 1989. You’ll receive training in Great White shark biology, behaviour, conservation, research, changing attitudes, shark attacks, basic seamanship (includes anchoring positions, wind directions), underwater filming, still photography and shark tourism. Weather permitting you will go to sea frequently. At sea, you’ll get involved as much as possible with all aspects of sea work. This will be focused on working with the sharks from above and below the water. Much emphasis will be 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.
Get in the Cage
In the cages you will record observations of the Great White sharks. This will include sex, size, markings and behavior. This training is designed to educate you to a level of competence of a field assistant. During the training, you will be evaluated on how you handle teamwork, take your own initiatives, take interest in the work and activities, show interest in learning.
Locating the Sharks
Finding the Great White shark is a skill, involving years of practice – the water temperature, depth, visibility, swell height, current and wind direction are all major factors.
Holy Shit! See them breaching
Great White sharks are surface feeders, you will be amazed when seeing the Great White lifting its head right out of the water to take the bait, and sometimes breach completely. In Shark Alley, close to Gansbaai, you will likely also see seals, penguins and the occasional dolphins frolicking near the islands, as well as magnificent Southern Right whales coming up from Antarctica to breed from May to November. These expeditions are more than just thrill-seeking adventures, they are educational experiences.
Find out more about this project on our blog
Accommodation at the volunteer house in Gansbaai. Gansbaai is a seaside village, which depends on fishing and tourism for its survival. It is situated approximately two hours south east of Cape Town. The shark team document a lot of shark activity using aerial surveys of the island. 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.
On the days when you´re not at sea, you can go on excursions in the local area and take part in activities such as wine tasting, penguin spotting, a visit to the most southern point of Africa and so on. Gansbaai is a lovely village and has several nice pubs and restaurants that you can visit, but there is no nightlife. The project volunteer coordinator will help you arrange some trips (at your personal expense), like these ones below:
Go Whale Watching!
See whales that are bigger than the boat you are watching them from! Huge and mysterious, whales are a fantastic sight the best time for spotting is between April and November.
Exploring the valley on horseback!
Follow the rambling trails of the Walker Bay Whale Conservancy. These rides take you into the private nature reserve that runs along the Klein River and into the Kleinriviersberg Mountains. Available for all abilities.
Bike the trails around the Robert Stanford Wine Estate, through the vines and bush in a rather intrepid manner. For excitement just about equal to a shark encounter!
Cape Town is ideally placed for the Orange River and Fish River Canyon \” fantastic places to explore. Being in South Africa also places you well for tours throughout Africa. Go up to Namibia, visit Victoria Falls or go on an epic trip through eight nations finishing up in Nairobi you´ll experience lots of wonders enroute. We have a number of different tours to choose from, just drop us a line to find out more about them to experience Africa in an adventurous but safe way.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Pre departure information
- Orientation programme on arrival.
- Breakfast at the volunteer house and lunch on the boat
- White Shark Field Book
- All flights
- Activities on days off
- Travel insurance
- Lunch on days off
You should arrange your flights into Cape Town the day before so the last day of the month or the 14th of the month. Many people book an extra few days in Cape Town. We can help you arrange this.