Volunteer with Great White Sharks in South Africa

South Africa
1 to 4 weeks
14 travelers are looking at this program

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About This Program

The programme is hosted in Gansbaai, roughly two hours out of the beautiful Cape Town, in an incredibly dynamic coastal ecosystem. Our main objective is to contribute to the conservation of white sharks and other sharks, and maintain the health and vitality of our oceans. As a volunteer you will have the chance to be involved with a number of marine research projects including: White shark behaviour and demographics, shark and ray diversity and abundance, fish diversity and abundance, rocky shores surveys and marine debris surveys. We take a holistic approach towards shark conservation, as it is vital we gain an overall understanding of ecological functioning. During your stay you will play a vital role in data collection, learn how to manage such data, and gain valuable skills in marine research in the field with the employment of a number of different research techniques including shark and fish controlled angling surveys, snorkeling, and baited remote underwater video (BRUV).

A typical day at our programme includes one or two trips on our white shark cage diving boat, or one trip on our research boat, or a day conducting other field work from land such as snorkelling surveys or shore fishing surveys. Weather dependent, volunteers can expect to partake in one of these activities every day. On some days you may have an early start, whilst on others you may start later in the day depending on the times of our trips to sea and on weather/tide etc. Some days you may be at sea all day, whilst other days you may be finished by midday or early afternoon. Other activities which you may find yourself being involved with during your time here include participation in community events, such as workshops and presentations for local schools, beach clean-ups, dissections and assisting with our social media pages. Any free time in the afternoons and evenings are generally rest, recovery or data entry time.

Much of our work is weather dependent, so the timetable/working hours are subject to change, but volunteers should expect to work some long days and some weekends. Outreach and educational activities may require after hours/weekend work. They normally have 1-2 days off a week, usually at the weekend, however, the off days will vary according to the weather and our opportunities to be at sea. The off-days provide the chance for the volunteers to relax, explore the area or perhaps take an excursion further afield.

These possible excursions include a trip to Cape Agulhas – the Southernmost point of Africa; a visit to Betty’s Bay to see the Stony Point penguin colony; wine tasting tours; kelp diving at Stanford Cove; hikes and horse riding trips in the local area; quadbiking, zipling; a visit to the Two Oceans Aquarium and the Waterfront in Cape Town; seal snorkelling in Cape Town; a trip up the East Coast to visit one of the Elephant Parks; Bloukrans bungee jump on the East Coast; safari trips; and more!

What's Included
Airport Transfers
Some Meals
What's Not Included
Some Meals
Travel Insurance


Housing is shared unless requested otherwise, as we accept 8 guests at a time
a time. The rooms are fully furnished with provided linens. The host and program manager are always available, if you need anything. We provided transportations for all guests for all work related activities and excursions.

Additional amenities:
• Wireless Internet
• Laundry service provided

Our project house is located in Kleinbaai roughly a two-minute drive or a ten-minute walk from the harbour where we launch. Kleinbaai is a small, quiet town; we are just a few minutes’ walk from the ocean and there are lots of beaches, hiking trails and other outdoor activities available. The local town of Gansbaai is just a five-minute drive away and has a number of restaurants and shops should you want to go out or need to buy any supplies. There are magnificent coastal and mountain views and a host of marine and mountain outdoor activities for you to explore in your free time.


We will provide breakfast basics and lunch on working days, as well as occasional dinners, but you will be responsible for most of your own evening meals and any other entertainment is at your own expense. You will also be responsible for your own food when out doing activities or on excursions.

We are committed to the conservation of sharks, other marine creatures and our seas through our research and data collection. We hold a permit awarded by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) and the South African Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF). Our research contributes to a national database compiled by DEA. We collaborate closely with the University of Stellenbosch on several projects, including a white shark fin ID database and a genetic samples study. We often help out at the local animal shelter and we do regular beach and harbour clean-ups in collaboration with 7Seasrope, a company that transforms recycled fishing line into bracelets. Further to this, our marine biologist holds a weekly workshop for the local Gansbaai Academia School’s Marine Science Club. These lectures aim to educate the students about the vulnerability of our delicate marine ecosystem and the importance of sustaining it. We also provide these students with pro bono educational trips aboard our affiliate shark cage diving vessel, courtesy of White Shark Diving Company and staff.

Hosted by White Shark Diving Company

White Shark Diving Company (WSDC) is a fully licensed cage-diving tour operator. We endeavour to promote the conservation of sharks and the environment through eco-tourism and conservation research projects.

Our volunteer research initiative at WSDC...


1 Week
$745 USD
2 Weeks
$1490 USD
3 Weeks
$1795 USD
4 Weeks
$2100 USD


based on 4 reviews
  • Impact 10
  • Support 10
  • Fun 10
  • Value 10
  • Safety 10
Showing 1 - 4 of 4
Default avatar

My new yearly home!

I volunteered with Great White Diving Company for 2 weeks and it was the best experience of my life - so much so that I plan on returning once a year. Being in a natural environment with such beautiful scenery, people, and wildlife was an incredibly grounding and growing experience. There are so many conservation issues in the world that need help, but by spending time with this company you get to make a direct impact through ocean research; it brings you face to face with the problem and opens your eyes to how much help is needed. Not to mention looking a great white in the eye is like no other experience in this world and changed my life. Diving was obviously the best part of the trip! The opportunity was so great and fulfilling, the staff was AMAZING - I cannot say enough great things, they made me feel at home, safe, and accommodated all of the other things I wanted to experience during my SA stay. Was a life changing trip thanks for everything guys! See you next year!

Yes, I recommend this program

Home Away From Home!

I had just graduated with a Masters' Degree in Zoology with Marine Zoology, and have always had a keen obsession with sharks! I am originally from Birmingham (UK), and so when I came to volunteer with the White Shark Diving Company, I had no idea what to expect! On arrival at the volunteer house, it was strikingly similar to living in a student house, but with a much better view and sharks plastered on every wall! Sitting on the balcony on that first sunny day, admiring the view of Van Dyk’s Bay and watching the shark boats go out, there wasn’t anywhere I would rather be.

The following 4 weeks were full of crazy adventures and priceless moments with members of the company and local friends we made along the way. Me and another volunteer living in the house enjoyed many excursions together including whale watching, volunteering at the local dog sanctuary (BARC) where we got to play with puppies and take dogs for walks, visiting the Panthera Africa Cat Sanctuary, gin/cider tasting, horseriding, mini golf, fatbiking on sand dunes, trips to Hermanus and also to major hotspots like the Southern-most tip of Africa (Cape Agulhas), the most South-Western tip of Africa (near the Cape of Good Hope) and Cape Town.
We took a 3-day road trip to Mossel Bay to see a multitude of things in the area. On the first day, we went on a safari game drive and stayed in Wilderness at Fairy Knowe Backpackers. The next day, we went cage diving near Seal Island where we were lucky enough to be visited by ‘Joker’, a great white that had a big scar running along its mouth from an attack off another territorial great white. We caught a glimpse of a humpback dolphin which (according to the boat crew) was an extremely rare occurrence.

In between all of these new and exciting experiences, there were mornings where we would go out on the research boat with Mary (Head co-ordinator and marine biologist). On these trips, we were taught how to catch smaller sharks via handlining, take biometric values and tag them before release. I caught my first ever shark; a 3-foot long pyjama shark (Poroderma africanum)! Observations of white shark activity were also recorded during cage diving trips i.e. length, time spent around boat, abundance, swell height, wind direction.
We were free to pick and choose what we wanted to do day-to-day, but some of my best memories were made on spontaneous nights out, meeting the crazy locals and going to crew members houses for dinner. It’s been over two months since I left, and I still haven’t shaken the feeling of being so comfortable in a place 13,000km from home. Each member of the White Shark Diving Company is a delight to be around, and I feel so privileged to have spent so much time with them. Without sounding too cliche, I think I’ve found another home from home and I would recommend this program to anyone who is willing to try new things, is crazy about sharks and most importantly up for a good time!

I am currently in the process of hopefully returning next year as an intern and completing my PhD out there too! I can't thank WSDC enough for all of these opportunities and the contacts I have made so far.

Big Love! *Shark Bait, Hoo Ha Ha*

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar

Best Experience Ever!!

Although i only went for a little over 2 weeks i couldnt have had a better experience and I can’t wait to go back. All of the staff and volunteer coordinators couldnt have been more welcoming and friendly. As a current Harvard sophmore studying biology, this program gave me the first hand academic experince I was looking for in a marine biology program. You will learn so much and also have so much fun! Plus the white sharks are DOPE!!!!!!!! It was truly a life time experience that couldnt have gone better. While your there I would try to go in the cage as much as you can and also interact with the tourists on the dive boat! Some are unaware of the facts of the ecotourism industry and that’s a great way to make a difference. Also, the food and the excursions are so much fun! Go! Go! Go!

Yes, I recommend this program


Don't think twice about this programme! You simply can't get anything better.
I spent nearly 3 awesome months in South Africa and fullfilled my long-time dream of working with those majestic cratures - white sharks.
Everything was so brilliant, I simply had to go with number 10 in every rating, although it should be 10+ at least! Everything was perfectly organized, I lived in spacious modern house with speechless balcony view over sea and african sunsets (oh and lets not forget braai - african BBQ- every other day).
Working with sharks was a lifetime experience, spending days at sea, observing, tagging, learning, (laughing) and taking photos, one can never get enough of it. Whats more - rich and enjoyable programme on the coast as well - safari, penguins, wine tasting, adrenaline sports, horse riding - basically think of an activity and you can enjoy it there!
I felt safe and mainly welcomed the minute I got there and throughout my whole stay. There is no greater feeling than knowing you are in a good company of people that care about the enviroment and love sharks. Everybody was super friendly supportive and I simply feel like I found a new family I will forever treasure in my heart! Till next time <3
So what are you waiting for?!

Yes, I recommend this program