• South Africa
    • Cape Town

Program Details



Starting Price
$2,000 USD
Jan 09, 2019
Dec 12, 2015

About Program

For shark-lovers, volunteering at Marine Dynamics is the perfect way of getting up close and personal with carcharodon carcharias, more commonly known as the great white shark. Every volunteer is taught how to record data for shark research and take fin identification photos in order to assist the biologists. The perk to having this job is that you can often catch the perfect photo when a great white breaches for the bait or seal decoy. Volunteers also prepare the boat on a daily basis, assist clients in and out of the cage. Visit the Marine Dynamics website to learn more!

This program is no longer offered. View more programs from Marine Dynamics.

Program Reviews

9.25 Rating
based on 4 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 75%
  • 7-8 rating 25%
  • 5-6 rating 0%
  • 3-4 rating 0%
  • 1-2 rating 0%
  • Impact 9.3
  • Support 9.8
  • Fun 8.5
  • Value 10
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 1 - 4 of 4 reviews
Yes, I recommend this program

Great Whites, Whales and Penguins...Oh My!

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.
5 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Marine Dynamics Great White Shark Project: an unforgettable experience!

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!

5 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Very nice programme, must do if you're looking for a 'different' holiday!

At the end of 2010 I spent 2 weeks with Marine Dynamics with the great white shark programme. I can only say my experience was fantastic! They have a volunteer house and during my time I shared it with one other person (it's big enough for 8). The people from MD are all very friendly and flexible and always willing to help out in any way possible.

Your day to day activities include mostly prepping the boat for departure, helping the tourists with their lifejackets / wetsuits and getting them in and out of the cage. If there are more people available to help, you can help the marine biologists with identifying the sharks and there are also opportunities to go with them on the research boat. Unfortunately I didn't have that chance, purely bad luck. I was there for only 2 weeks and during that time the boat had some mechanical problems. I think going along on that boat would have made my experience even better.

After work there's loads of other stuff going on, such as braai's (South African barbecues) and when Pepe's around there's definitely no time to get bored anyways. All in all, this was one of my best holidays so far and I can highly recommend.

4 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Shark and Tourist Experience

I was completely satisfied with my volunteer placement with Marine Dynamics, volunteering on a tourist boat.

The boat trip was essentially designed to experience cage diving with Great White Sharks, but it was also an opportunity to see other breathtaking sea life during the trips, such as Southern Right wales, dolphins and seals. Every trip was different and never failed in it's excitement and beauty.

Having always taken interest in travel and tourism as well as aquatic life, I couldn't have chosen a more perfect trip.

As well as having access to this wonderful boat trip, I was also surrounded by brilliant people including the marine biologists, fellow volunteers and various others working for the company. There were constantly braai's being held and some kind of party taking place!

It was so fulfilling to share these amazing sights daily with the friendly crew and awed tourists. It's definitely something I would consider going back to.

The only bad thing I can say about my time here is that it went too quickly!

4 people found this review helpful.
Read my full story

Questions & Answers