Shark and Marine Research Institute Volunteer Program

Our volunteer program gives candidates the opportunity to interact with sharks and gain crucial skills for a future career in marine biology or marine science. The program is also open to anyone with a passion for ocean conservation and is a transformative option for a gap year undertaking.


We are one of the few conservation-focused shark cage diving companies in South Africa. Our research is focused on obtaining government legislated protection for the over-exploited shark populations in the region. We do this with the help of volunteers – help us make a difference.


The program offers training for marine research students and graduates. Depending on your university’s approval requirements, the program can be allocated towards your credits.


Our research projects are conducted in collaboration with Stellenbosch University. As a volunteer, you will play an essential role in data collection. You will also learn how to manage that data and be involved in our local outreach and education programs.


Join us at the southern tip of Africa in one of the most diverse marine ecosystems on the planet. Delve deep into the complexities of the majestic Great White Shark in its environment, and also partake in a host of land-based excursions.


One night’s accommodation in Cape Town

Transfers to and from Cape Town International Airport

Transport for all program-related activities

Accommodation in our fully equipped home away from home, overlooking the scenic bay

Daily breakfast and lunch, as well as some dinners

A welcome pack with a hoody, t-shirt, cap, buff, and shark USB drive with amazing Great White footage

Multiple shark cage diving trips on our White Shark Cage Diving boat

Tagging trips on our research boat

Extensive training in fin identification and analysis

Training in ethical handling, angling, and tagging techniques


A trip to Cape Aghulas – the southern-most point of Africa

Stony Point Penguin colony in Betty’s Bay

Klipgat Cave, a local heritage site

Horse riding

A riverboat cruise along the Stanford River

Lots of surfing and scuba diving

An offshore dive past Cape Point to see Blue and Mako sharks

A trip up the East Coast of South Africa to do the highest bungee jump in the world

A dive to see Sevengill Cow sharks

Applications are now open with limited space for 2019


As a registered NPO, the program fees go towards the continuation of our essential research and conservation efforts. In addition, the fees also go towards the program running costs, as well as maintaining the research equipment for our projects.

Registered NPO number:

What our volunteers are saying:

“I volunteered with SMRI first during the first week of May and again during the first week of July. It was, hands-down, the most valuable experience I could have ever chosen to take part in. I have been fascinated with sharks for my entire life and volunteering with SMRI allowed me to catch a glimpse into my future life as a Marine Biologist. Yes, you will learn incredibly cool techniques such as how to tag the sharks, how to take their measurements, recording climate data, and using dorsal fin ID software. But one of the most valuable parts of my time as a volunteer was being able to meet other people in my field.”

Kasey Mitchell

“Came out during the months of May and June and can honestly say that this is the most amazing place to gain amazing knowledge, with amazing people with amazing animals. If you’re interested in Sharks, the sea or just doing something completely different and life changing then this company and program is the one to do it with. If I could rate it any more than 5 stars I would and would recommend to anyone!!!”

Donovan Lewis

“I worked with SMRI as a Volunteer Researcher for the month of June, and I will never forget it. Being able to participate in the incredibly important research they conduct, such as the elasmobranch project and fin identifications, was an amazing experience. As someone who is studying to become a Marine Biologist with a focus on shark studies, this company has provided me with indispensable skills that will greatly aid me in my future career. Even for someone who isn’t specifically interested in studying sharks, this program is still great for any aspiring biologist or even someone who is generally just interested in great whites. “

Michael Blanco