Marine Conservation Volunteer

Work closely with marine biologists at the Great white shark capital of the world, Gansbaai in the southern Cape of South Africa. Be part of ongoing projects around the off-shore Dyer Island and study the behavior and population parameters of Great White sharks, Cape Fur seals, whales, dolphins,  and other marine life, assist with penguin conservation, enjoy shark cage diving and whale watching. This program forms part of the Great White Shark Research, Oceanographic Research Institute, Dyer Island Conservation Trust, African Penguin Conservation Nests, African Penguin & Seabird Sanctuary, Baited Remote Underwater Video Systems, South African Seabird Centre, Marine Animal Rescues, and the Education program DEEP.

Lwazi Team

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Application Form


This program offers a diverse marine experience and includes a combination of several different activities – mostly conservation, research and ecotourism with sharks, cetaceans, penguins, other seabirds and marine fish. It also includes seabird rehabilitation and beach clean-ups. Interns can tailor-make their experience according to their interests and ability. For example, you can choose which boat you would like to assist on a day-to-day basis.  Many prefer the shark cage-diving vessel but some choose to only go on the ecotour/whale-watching vessel, while others do a bit of both.  Many also assist with bird rehabilitation work at the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary and take part in the boat trips in-between.

Some of the duties on the boats:

  • Assisting on shark and whale boats
  • Assisting with tagging and tracking activities
  • Shark ID, general shark and bird photos
  • Whale and dolphin monitoring
  • Shark cage dive
  • Seabird and shorebird monitoring
  • Data capture / Baitline & Decoy handling
  • Chum trips
  • Preparing and cleaning of boat

On land duties include:

  • Electronic data and log book entry
  • Photographic fin ID quality control
  • Shark egg collection and identification
  • Estuary monitoring
  • Talks on sharks, penguins, marine species & marine ecology
  • Beach clean-up campaigns
  • Fishing line clean-up

Conservation & Community Projects

  • African Bird & Seabird Sanctuary
  • Marine animal rescues
  • Environmental education  program


Off days

There will be occasional off days or due to bad weather where you will not be at sea. The coordinators will will arrange an educational or fun activity, or lectures. Activities could include:


  • A trip to Cape Agulhas – the southernmost point of Africa
  • Shopping excursions and wine tasting in Hermanus
  • Hikes in the local area
  • A visit to the local heritage site Klipgat Cave

At your own cost:

  • A visit to Stony Point penguin colony in Betty’s Bay
  • Kelp snorkeling at Stanford Cove
  • Horse Riding
  • ATV ring (quad biking)
  • River boat cruises along Stanford River
  • Visit Danger Point Lighthouse
  • Visit to Strandveld Museum
  • Visit to the Two Oceans Aquarium and the Waterfront in Cape Town
  • Two Oceans Aquarium shark tank dives can be arranged at a discount for interns


This two week program is open throughout the year and can be extended for a few weeks. A one week program is available on request. However, we strongly encourage longer stays so that volunteers have a more comprehensive and satisfactory experience.  You  will also have more boat time, more opportunities for cage diving and participate in many of the activities and programs.

A NAUI scuba diving course is being offered for volunteers staying for 2 weeks or longer. E-learning can be started before the time of arrival.

For stays of 4 weeks or longer, a donation is made from your fee towards a conservation trust and the money is being used for African penguin conservation. Interns receive a certificate of completion.

Arrival and Departure

Arrive on a Sunday in Cape Town and take a shuttle to your accommodation in Cape Town. Our office can assist you with accommodation but it has to be booked and paid for by yourself. Most reputable hotels/lodges offer a shuttle service from the airport.

You will be picked up from your accommodation on Monday morning and transferred to Gansbaai, a 2.5h drive. Pick-up at the airport on Monday morning is not available. A message will be sent to the reception desk of the accommodation where the intern is staying with the pick-up time for Monday morning. It is very important that you are punctual as the shuttle runs on a tight schedule.

On arrival at the program you will be fully briefed and have the opportunity to meet the team including a personal supervisor who will be available to you throughout your stay.

You will be dropped off at the airport or at your accommodation in Cape Town on a Monday, the last day of your program. Please ensure that your departure flight is booked after 7:00pm. Also make sure that you have at least one hour layover time in Johannesburg for your connecting flight. If your departure from Cape Town is before 5:00pm, then you may have to leave the program a day earlier or stay one extra night in Cape Town to avoid any problems.

Accommodation and Meals

Accommodation is at The Birkenhead Lodge which has 4 fully furnished chalets that house between 4 and 6 persons per chalet, with own bathroom, kitchen and living areas. There is a spacious living area in the main hall with a TV and internet access, a pool table, table tennis, communal indoor barbeque and kitchen area that can be used. A swimming pool and garden is also available. Laundry service is at an extra cost.

A basic breakfast and a light lunch on board the boat will be provided. Should you be participating in other activities you may be responsible for your own lunch. Evening meals and other entertainment are at your own expense. Your accommodation has a fully equipped kitchen and barbeque area.


The program coordinator lives next to the lodge for your support, and the main office is a 10 min. walk from the lodge. A safe is also available at the office to store personal belongings.

Pre-and post-tours

We suggest that you enjoy a few days in Cape Town and explore the beautiful surroundings such as Table Mountain, Cape Point, Robben Island, wine route etc. before returning home. We also recommend a tour up the Garden Route or to other tourist attractions in the region. All personal excursions can be booked prior to travelling to South Africa or while you are at the program. Optional excursions are at your own cost.

Prices: (2021)     Reduced prices for 2021

2 weeks                       US$ 1,250
3 weeks                       US$ 1,750
4 weeks                       US$ 2,100
Each additional week US$ 450
Deposit:                       US$ 500
Outstanding Amount: Payable 2 months prior to commencement of the program.


Price Includes:

  • Transfer from Cape Town to the program and back.
  • Accommodation and two meals a day (BL)
  • Transportation on-site
  • On-site orientation and training
  • All marine activities as listed
  • One shark cage dive
  • Two t-shirts
  • Full time staff members to supervise and support interns

Price Excludes:

  • International roundtrip airfare to Cape Town, South Africa
  • Compulsory travel, medical and evacuation insurance
  • Immunizations
  • Communication e.g. phone calls
  • Personal expenses
  • Optional personal travel excursions and adventure activities