How many times will I be going on the boat?
Your time on the boat is dependent on the weather. We try and make at least 3-4 trips out to sea per week between our cage-diving and research boat, sometimes daily trips if weather and time allows.
Can I get university accreditation for this?
This is dependent on your University’s specific requirements for accreditation but yes it is possible to complete this as an internship/field work experience and obtain credit points towards your degree.
How often will I be shark cage diving?
We offer you at least four shark cage dives in one month.
When is the best time of the year for sharks?
We have White Shark viewings all year round but our high season generally falls in our winter, which is June, July and August. Other sharks can be found all year round, we are still in the process of learning about the best times to experience different species.
What will I be doing on the tourist boat?
You will often be asked to speak to the tourists before and after the trip, and ask them to fill out a questionnaire to contribute to our social perception study.
When at sea on the tourist boat you will be helping with collection of our daily monitoring data, including taking dorsal fin ID photographs. You will learn how to record data, how to identify individual sharks, how to determine different behaviours and how to estimate size. Volunteers also play a role when in the cage by determining whether the shark is male or female.
You will not in any regard replace a member of staff by dealing with the tourists whilst on shark cage diving trips, or by having to clean the boat or wetsuits after a trip, for example. However, we do encourage you to chat with the guests to educate and promote awareness about Great White Sharks, our research and our shark conservation initiatives when the opportunity arises.
What will I be doing on the research boat?
On the research boat we conduct two different types of surveys: controlled angling surveys and baited remote underwater video system (BRUVs) surveys.
During controlled angling surveys you will learn ethical angling and handling of different shark species, what measurements to take when catching sharks, how to tag sharks and how to take genetic samples. During BRUVs surveys we drop down our BRUVs rig, leave it for a period of 30-60 minutes and analyse the videos on shore later.
How many hours will I be working?
Some days are long and some much shorter. We often have quite an early morning start but some days you will be finished with your tasks for the day by lunch time. Other days we will spend all day at sea, and on no-sea days we will work on processing the data or go on various different excursions. You can expect to work 5-8 hours a day.
Will there be lectures?
There will be some lectures during your time here, and some months we have guest speakers who will come in and speak to our volunteers.
Will I have time off?
We generally judge the time off by the weather. When the weather is bad, you will have time off and the opportunity to do other activities and explore. Should you be lucky enough to have good weather for the whole time you are here, we will give you days off each week and we are very happy for you to take a day or two off if there is something specific you want to do or go to see.
Do I need any vaccinations?
There are no vaccination requirements as the Western Cape is far from all malaria zones and there are no strange diseases in the area (given you respect the safety rules as anywhere else in the world). Some travel sites recommend you have your Hepatitis A, Typhoid and Hepatitis B, but this is at your discretion as it is not a specific requirement to enter the country and is not required for the programme. However, we suggest you speak to your local healthcare practitioner and decide accordingly.
Do I need to bring any medication?
Please bring any prescription medication that you require, otherwise no specific medication is required. If you want to bring some standard headache tablets etc. with you that is fine, but such medication is also available here from the local pharmacy. The only thing to ensure you bring with you is some sunscreen.
How do the meals work?
All food basics are provided in the house for you to make your own breakfast and lunch, including milk, tea, coffee, sugar, cereals, fruit, bread, eggs, cheese etc. We also provide some ingredients to assist with your dinner meals and will provide dinner for you two to three times a week. Any luxury items and additional items you want to add to your meals will need to be purchased by yourself. We encourage a social environment in the house and suggest volunteers take turns to cook.
What are the living conditions like?
All volunteers are housed in our volunteer house, which is located in Kleinbaai, minutes away from the ocean and roughly a two minute drive or a ten minute walk from the harbour where we launch.
The house is spacious with two large living areas, a large kitchen, and a balcony overlooking the ocean. Volunteers will be put into single sex rooms with two to four volunteers per room. There are plenty of bathroom facilities and we also provide satellite TV, laundry facilities and a daily cleaning service.
Is there unlimited internet access?
Yes, unlimited WiFi is available in the volunteer house.
Do I need to bring my own dive gear?
No, we have wetsuits for you to use here on the cage-diving boat and can also provide all the equipment needed to go snorkelling. Should you want to go diving you will need to rent the additional SCUBA gear, which we can help organise for you. If you would like to bring your own dive gear, for example your own suit, mask and fins, that is also fine.
What is important to bring?
In winter, it is important to bring layers and warm clothes as it can get quite cold at sea and at night. It is important to bring a waterproof jacket and trousers to wear on the research boat, and please bring old clothes that you don’t mind getting fishy!
If I stay longer than a month am I going to keep repeating what was done in the first month?
Our current research projects are long-term monitoring projects so much of the data collection you do will be the same throughout your time here. However, the longer you are here the more you will get to experience, the more activities you will get to do and the more sharks and other marine species you will get to encounter. We often have mini projects running on the side and we do different outreach and community education activities each month as well. Many previous volunteers have found that one month is not long enough and has gone too quickly!