Marine Dynamics Shark Tours, Gansbaai, South Africa

Marine Dynamics

About

Operating in Gansbaai, Western Cape, a world hot spot for the great white shark, you will experience an incredible cage diving adventure on board our custom designed boat, Slashfin, (named after one of our visiting sharks). An on board marine biologist will educate you as you get up close and personal with this amazing apex predator. We are certified by Fair Trade in Tourism and live by our motto of ‘Discover and Protect’. We are involved in shark research which includes tagging and tracking the great white. You will leave with great memories and a deep appreciation of this majestic animal.

Founded
2005
Headquarters

5 Geelbek Street
Gansbaai
7220
South Africa

Reviews

Susan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

You do get “up close and personnel” with the sharks! I got picked up from the B.I.G. in Cape Town at 8:30am and after stopping off at some other hostels we were on our way to Gansbaai! We had volunteers from: USA, Canada, Israel, Holland, Italy, Austria and Scotland.

We were immediately given our gear (2 shirts, 1 ball cap and a wind jacket)and were taken to our cabins in their new facility. The rooms where clean; bathroom had plenty of hot water (which we needed as it was cold in August!) and a nice kitchen in each cabin. The coordinators drove us to the local grocery market to buy food and drinks; they did this every other day so buying food was no issue. Our first two days were spent training, meeting one of the Captains and enjoying a presentation at the Great White House. Our 3rd day in we made our first trip to sea was as a client, and the sharks were great! I had no idea I even took any decent pictures until we looked at the pictures that night. As you can see, I was inches from the teeth!

I spent most of my time on the Slashfin. I enjoy the water and never get seasick so this was Great! As a volunteer you are expected to help with boat prep and get all the guests into their gear both at the Great White House and on the Slashfin. The ride out to the diving site was always fantastic! You will get a lot of time to watch the sharks and film them, this is a major plus! The Marine Biologists, Kelly and Sara were funny and very knowledgeable. The local crews on the boat really know their stuff and it is like a ballet in motion watching them work.

What was unexpected for me was I came for the sharks and fell in Love with the Penguins! I worked every day of my two weeks at APSS. You have to prove yourself there. If you have ever seen the show Dirty Jobs one of them is cleaning Penguin poop and yes you are going to do it! You scrub pens, floors, everywhere, but it is so worth it. I quickly became attached to the little guys and had no fear of their beaks (which by the way can get you if you are not careful!) I was able to work with the Penguins directly; administering nutrients via tubing, hand feeding fish and giving medications. Since I work with my vet in Texas this was a whole new experience vs the livestock I am used to! The best part…I got to be involved in their Penguin release! They had 10 Penguins that we released on August 23, 2015 and I was so blessed to have been able to open a cage and let the little guys go back to Dyer Island! That on it's own would have made my entire trip but there was so much more to do! I went to Cape Agulhas, enjoyed seafood up and down the coast and you just cannot visit enough winery's! On our last two days we had a no sea day. We went into Hermanus and went shopping, sampled wines at Creative Winery and went to Stoney Point to see the Penguins in the wild. To say I am am in Love with Penguins is an understatement! The day we left we left early and went to the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town were I got to dive in the Predators tank with a couple of Ragged Tooth Sharks and a frisky Turtle (make sure to bring your dive card!) I loved it!! I plan on going back but spending at least a month there!

What would you improve about this program?
My one big change would be that they allow volunteers a chance to at least work on the whaling boat at least once if they are there two weeks or maybe at least once a week. I noticed, while I was there that they tended to put the same volunteers on the same projects and as a volunteer you really want to be able to volunteer in as many different ways as possible.
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Blair
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I've been lucky enough to have been involved with Dyer Island Conservation Trust for the past two years. First as a volunteer, and then this year as a Research Intern. For anyone with a passion for the ocean and it's inhabitants, this program is like a dream come true. You'll be out at sea every day (except for bad weather), where you'll see Great White sharks, seals, penguins, whales, dolphins, and oceanic birds including majestic albatross if your lucky. To come face to face with a Great White Shark if a lifetime highlight guaranteed. The marine biologists you'll work with are incredibly generous with their knowledge, not to mention just straight out good fun to be around! And this program just seems to attract a great mix of people in both ages, nationality etc that allows for a great social scene after a long day out at sea. Braais (BBQ's) at the volunteer house are an institution, as are sunset drinks overlooking the bay at DeKelders. As for the staff, they treat you like family and you can't help but feel it back. You'll help out on the cage diving vessel, have the chance to be involved in real research, take a trip on the whale watching vessel and so much more. Basically if the sea is your passion, then this is for you!

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TK
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I first volunteered with Marine Dynamics four years ago and have been coming back every year since. What an amazing experience! It is such an honor to see great white sharks everyday. I learn so much while I am here and the marine biologists are wonderful to work with.

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Alex
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The project speaks for itself. Having the opportunity to dive and interact with Great White Sharks on a daily basis was an experience I will never forget. I also was able to discuss conservation and biology principles with the staff, other volunteers, and tourists; people from all corners of the world. It's a priceless learning experience.

The staff of this project take the time to really get to know you on a personal and professional level. They go out of their way to make sure the volunteers are getting the most out their volunteer experience and that they are having the trip of a lifetime. Tracey would visit me at the volunteer house, take me and others out to dinners or out on the town when we had shorter days. She even helped arrange local entertainment (ATV riding, Capetown adventures, sky diving, etc) They treat you like someone who belongs there. When the owner found out I was studying to be a veterinarian, he arranged for me to assist the local veterinarian in a couple injured bird cases. Basically, you always have things to do there, even if they are not directly affiliated with the research project. I believe this volunteer project has a great future ahead of it, and my greatest hope is to return someday.

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MJLloyd
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My time working at Marine Dynamics was without a doubt the greatest month of my life, and by the end of it, I was only thinking about when I could go back or how i could stay longer. The Marine Dynamics Great White Shark Project was not only a fun and exciting way to spend some of my gap year, but educational as well and gave me a fantastic pre-degree taste of marine biology in the field. The staff in the Great White house, the Marine biologists and the crew on the boat, all of them made me feel welcomed and allowed me to quickly feel comfortable working there throughout my time volunteering. Working on the cage diving boat was amazing, seeing the majestic Great Whites up close is definitely something I would say everyone should do at some point as it is an experience to remember! On the occasion that i could go out on the research boat 'LWASI' i was able to get a first hand experience of tagging and tracking a white shark, something that was an amazing experience and gave me an insight into how they move and how they hunt, i even got to witness a predation, which is amazing to see!
After boat work the social scene is amazing, whether its having a casual night in, going to a braii (BBQ) or going out to the pubs, the social aspect left nothing to be desired and was a seriously good time!
Overall, my time with Marine Dynamics was unforgettable and I would sincerely tell anyone thinking of going to see the white sharks to definitely go down to Ghansbaii and see the Sharks with Marine Dynamics! Truly an amazing experience without compare. I HIGHLY recommend this volunteering program, after all, I personally have already made plans to go back!

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Why did you decide to volunteer with Marine Dynamics in South Africa

Rosie: I was drawn to this particular volunteer programme because I was especially interested in being involved with a project researching marine life. Knowing I would daily be out at sea viewing Great White sharks and Southern Right Whales was the deciding factor for me.

Volunteering with Great White Sharks in South Africa

Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

Rosie: We would prepare for the tourists arrival, such as cleaning the boat, washing the wetsuits and loading their refreshments on board. There would usually be two trips a day (morning and afternoon).

During the trips there were numerous jobs the volunteers would help with. Sometimes the marine biologists would want help taking down data, which included the water temperature, weather circumstances and also writing down all visible details of the sharks we sighted. Also we would assist the tourists with their wetsuits and generally interact with them.

As well as the work we would be doing, we’d also socialise together and with volunteers from the other shark project companies in Gansbaai. There were loads of braai’s and parties, which I can’t complain about.

Marine Dynamics volunteering in South Africa

How has this experience impacted your future?

Rosie: I am definitely more attentive to marine life and like to keep learning new things about sharks, whales and dolphins etc. It has also made me a lot more aware of whale’s and shark’s vulnerability in terms of being hunted by humans.

At the moment I am working in an office, which couldn’t be further away from my active volunteer experience, but I am keen to study travel and tourism and hopefully work abroad as a guide one day, possibly even specializing in South Africa.

More Interviews

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Tell us a little about DICT and your role at the company.

Tracey: The Dyer Island Conservation Trust was founded in 2006 by Wilfred Chivell. The Dyer Island Conservation Trust delivers unique conservation and research programmes in the fragile and critically important marine eco-system at the southern-most tip of Africa. Here we strive to protect the largest surviving colonies of the endangered African Penguin whose numbers are at an all-time low; the globally important breeding and calving grounds of the Southern Right Whale; and, the world's densest populations of the vulnerable Great White Shark

How did you get involved in the volunteer industry?

Tracey: We want to educate people about the sharks and other marine animals to ensure that these volunteers go back to their own countries and educate their community, family and friends on the importance of the oceans and it’s animals. Volunteering is a great way to make a difference and also to have a life changing experience. We need volunteers to bring with their own initiatives and ideas on how we can also strive to do the best for the sharks and other marine animals.

What makes DICT unique?

Tracey: It’s multi-pronged approach to conservation research and education. Any research projects we do must contribute to the conservation of the species. Scientific research can reveal the answers we need to guide conservation decisions by government. We believe in educating our youth and support the eco schools programme in our area. We are also the only animal rescue centre in the area. We also host conferences bringing together international scientists.

In your experience, what characteristics make a good international volunteer?

Tracey: Someone with a passion and love for the ocean and marine life. Someone that does not mind getting their hands dirty and willingness to help where ever they can be it for animals or the community. Eager to learn and be able to be flexible.

What does the future hold for DICT?

Tracey: Further support to valuable research. If we can grow our funding, we can support this by offering relevant grants. We plan to have a Marine Educational and Resource Centre which will draw together scientists and scholars and in turn create employment.